NHRC asked to investigate ‘encounter killings’
Published: August 10, 2018 10:00 am On: Kathmandu
Himalayan News Service
NHRC can summon police officers involved in encounters and question them
Kathmandu, August 9
In the face of ‘encounter killings’ in Bhaktapur, human rights activists say the National Human Rights Commission should thoroughly investigate incidents of alleged fake police encounters to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Chairperson of Informal Sector Service Centre Subodh Raj Pyakurel said the National Human Rights Commission needed to thoroughly investigate incidents of police encounters. He said the NHRC failed in the past to go beyond the circumstantial evidence as far as the investigation into the allegation of fake encounters were concerned.
“Unlike the non-governmental human rights organisations which have limited mandate to investigate human rights issues, the NHRC can launch thorough probe into encounter killings and easily collect evidences to prove culpability or innocence of police officers involved,” he said and added that the NHRC had failed to ask some key questions to police officers involved in ‘encounters’ such as who gave the order to open fire and how many police officers were involved in the incident. The NHRC can also summon the police officers involved in encounters and ask them all the pertinent questions.
Pyakurel said killings in police encounters could not be justified in any sense. “While encounter killings could be justified in rare circumstances during war and extreme cases of security threat, killings by police in the name of encounter cannot be justified,” he said and added that Brazilian President Lula ordered police to kill mafias because they posed grave danger to law enforcement officers and the public by exploding bombs in jails to free their accomplices, but that kind of situation did not exist in Nepal.
In our country the police can capture criminals employing various tactics so I think there is no justification for police to kill criminals in the name of encounters, Pyakurel added.
“In the aftermath of ‘encounter killing’ in Bhaktapur, I have seen people expressing sympathy towards police officers, but we cannot condone police’s actions that violate the rule of law,” he said and added that encounter could be used by the state to kill political opponents. “Police are supposed to instil a sense of security not threat but in Bhaktapur, the police gave a message of threat to the public,” he argued.
Coordinator of Accountability Watch Committee Charan Prasai said ‘encounter killings’ should be investigated to deter police from using their power and position to kill people.
“If police are found guilty of fake encounter killing, they should be punished for homicide. Only then can we deter police officers from killing people in the name of encounter killing,” he added.
He said the NHRC did not make public the reports of the probe committees formed to investigate ‘encounter killings’ in the past. “If anybody is found guilty of suppressing the reports, then s/he should be exposed,” he argued. NHRC member Sudip Pathak said his organisation investigated ‘encounter killing’ of Dinesh Adhikari alias Chari, Kumar Shrestha alias Ghainte and Manoj Pun in the past, but the investigation could not reach a solid conclusion because no ballistic experts and eye witnesses were available.
“Findings of ballistic experts and experts who prepare autopsy report can be crucial in establishing the fact that a shooting death was a fake police encounter,” Pathak said and added that the NHRC was also discussing whether post-mortem of ‘encounter’ victims should be performed by international expert and whether international ballistic experts should be brought to investigate the use of bullet, to ascertain the distance from where the bullet was hit, the flight and trajectory of the bullets.
Pathak said the NHRC had formed two-member probe team to investigate three ‘encounter killings’ in the past but in Bhaktapur case it had formed a five-member team to probe the incident. “We have learnt a lesson from past incidents and want to investigate more robustly this time,” he added.
Pathak said the NHRC had not closed its past investigation and the day it would gather solid evidence to prove that the encounters were fake, the guilty could not escape punishment. He also said that his office had prepared detailed questionnaire to investigate Bhaktapur ‘encounter killing’ which also includes the question as to who opened fire and which weapons were used to kill the two persons accused of kidnapping and murdering 11 year-old Nishan Khadka.