Breaches of humanitarian law mount in Nepalese conflict - UN rights report

4 April 2006 – Violations of international humanitarian law in Nepal have “deepened a great deal” over the past two months, with Maoist rebels increasingly targeting cities and Government forces dropping mortar bombs from helicopters in civilian areas, a United Nations human rights spokesman said today.

An upcoming report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) representative in Nepal, Ian Martin, voiced concern over the fact that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had been making use of and targeting civilian buildings, spokesman José Luis Díaz, told a news briefing in Geneva.

In the report that is to be submitted to the newly established Human Rights Council, Mr. Martin said the Maoists were also making use of improvised explosive devices, including many that posed serious risk to civilians.

Other breaches of international humanitarian law by the Maoists include continued use of children within the People's Liberation Army, despite denials by the Maoists that they were recruiting children under 18. The OHCHR office in Nepal continued to interview many such children who had been in the ranks of the Maoists.

As to the security forces' response, Mr. Martin indicated that one of the most troubling issues was the use of helicopters to fire and drop mortar bombs on areas where Maoists had allegedly been operating, actions that could not distinguish, as required by international law, between civilians and those Maoist fighters considered to be legitimate targets.

OHCHR was also investigating a number of alleged killings by the Royal Nepalese Army of Maoists who were already captured or in situations where they could have been captured without being killed.

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