New York (UN/epo). - A group of nine United Nations human rights experts today voiced deep concern over a wave of arrests and detentions in Nepal following King Gyanendra's suspension of constitutional guarantees and called for the full restoration of democracy and the rule of law.
"The wave of arrests and detentions and the actions against the media are a serious setback for the country," they said in the latest of a series of UN statements since the King proclaimed a state of emergency, dissolved the government a week ago and instituted media censorship, among other steps to fight a Maoist rebellion.
"Consequently, we call upon the Government of Nepal to reaffirm the basic principles of the rule of law, democracy, and supremacy of the constitution, as well as to guarantee basic human rights for all its citizens, including the right to life, to physical and psychological integrity, to liberty, to security, and to the freedoms of opinion, expression, association, assembly and movement," they added.
The experts include Leandro Despouy, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Yakin Ertük, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women; Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; and Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The others are Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on torture; Diane Orentlicher, Independent Expert on combating impunity; Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; Stephen J. Toope, Chairman-Rapporteur on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; and Le?la Zerrougui, Chairperson-Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention.
Immediately after the King imposed the state of emergency on 1 February, Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed grave concern and called for the restoration of democratic freedoms and institutions.