In November 2010, Mr.Lakpa Tamang, a 11 year old boy belonging to the indigenous community of Nepal was accused of having stolen a gold earring by a neighbour based on an astrologer’s statement. On 15 November 2010, he was brought to Pachuwaghat Police Station in Kavrepalanchowk for interrogation. Two local police officers asked if he had stolen the earring and when he denied, he was severely mistreated; slapped on the face, beaten with plastic pipes, electrocuted in his ears, submitted to falanga (method of torturing with beatings on the foot soles) and threatened with death unless he confessed his alleged theft. In extreme pain, he signed a confession to save his life. Mr.Lakpa Tamang’s father signed a “reconciliation deed”, undertaking to refund his neighbour for the gold earring. In the process, Mr. Lakpa Tamang endured lasting psychological harm and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder hampering his further education prospects.
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Search for Justice
On 6 January 2011, Mr. Lakpa’s father submitted a complaint to the Kavrepalanchowk District Court, requesting the prosecution and sanction of those responsible for his son’s torture and compensation for the harm suffered. On 27 February 2012, the Kavrepalanchowk District Court sentenced the two police officers concerned to pay a fine of 2,000 Nepalese Rupees each (approximately 16 Euros), considering that they should not be deprived of their liberty. The District Court also ordered the payment of 20,000 Nepalese Rupees (approximately 160 Euros) as compensation for Mr. Lakpa Tamang. Considering that the sanction imposed on those responsible was not commensurate to the gravity of the crime and that the amount of money awarded as compensation was insufficient to repair the harm suffered, on 29 November 2012 the author’s parents submitted an appeal before the Appellate Court in Patan. On 19 April 2015, the Appellate Court in Patan rendered its decision, ordering that the defendants should be fined 5,000 Nepalese Rupees each (approximately 40 Euros) and that Mr. Lakpa Tamang should receive a total of 100,000 Nepalese Rupees (approximately 800 Euros) as compensation. The Appellate Court in Patan refused to sentence the defendants to deprivation of liberty.
On 22 January 2016, the author submitted a complaint to the Supreme Court of Nepal, alleging that the sanction imposed on the two police officers implicated is not commensurate to the gravity of the crime committed against him and that the compensation awarded is not adequate and is at odds with international law standards. The author of the communication thus requested the Supreme Court of Nepal to grant review of previous decisions. However, on 2 February 2016 the Supreme Court of Nepal rejected the appeal and the request of review, upholding the Appellate Court’s decision.
On 10 March 2016, TRIAL International submitted an individual communication on behalf of Mr. Lakpa Tamang to the Human Rights Committee (HRC). The HRC issued its decision on the case on 21 March 2018, declaring Nepal internationally responsible for the violation of numerous provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and indicating various measures of reparation, including to provide the applicant with adequate compensation and the necessary medical and psychological rehabilitation.
The Human Rights Committee recommended that Nepal should review its investigation and ensure that those responsible are sanctioned with penalties commensurate to the gravity of the crime. It further recommended that Nepal provide full reparation, access to any necessary medical treatment and psychological rehabilitation along with appropriate and effective measures of satisfaction for the violations sustained by Mr. Lakpa and his family. In addition, Nepal must also take measures to eradicate torture and ill-treatment by revising its legislation to define and criminalize torture with sanctions and remedies in accordance with international standards, including with respect to children. Additionally, it is essential for the law enforcement personnel to receive training on the prevention and investigation of torture and ill-treatment. Also, Nepal should ensure that the reconciliation agreement has no evidentiary value in legal proceedings. Likewise, Nepal should make sure that no evidence obtained through torture is used in any proceedings or invoke legal responsibility.
Efforts for Implementation
Collective Follow-up report to the Human Rights Committee, February 2021