Restrictions on Mr. S.K. Pradhan's freedom of movement
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||29 March 2005|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Restrictions on Mr. S.K. Pradhan's freedom of movement, 29 March 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/482c5bf1c.html [accessed 29 January 2015]|
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, wish to express their deep concern about the restrictions on freedom of movement of Mr. S.K. Pradhan, Secretary General of the Peoples' Forum for Human Rights and Development (PFHRD).
The Observatory has been informed by PFHRD, a Nepal-based Bhutanese human rights association, that the Nepalese government refused to issue a Travel Document (TD) to Mr. S.K. Pradhan.
According to the information received, Mr. S.K. Pradhan, who has been actively involved defending refugees' rights in Nepal for 14 years, was denied a Travel Document to attend the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland, by the Refugee Coordination Unit (RCU) Deputy Director, Mr. Basanta Raj Bhattarai. Mr. Pradhan regularly went to the office of the latter from February 28 to March 9, 2005, and was asked to bring a recommendation letter from the government appointed camp supervisor at Beldangi-II extension, which he did. But even after having submitted the recommendation letter from the camp, Mr. Basanta Raj Bhattarai refused to issue the TD on grounds (as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Jhapa later informed Mr. Pradhan) of long absence from the camp. In fact, from September 2001 to September 2004, Mr. Pradhan was confined to Jhapa district prison and never went out of Nepal.
Indeed, Mr. Pradhan spent three years in prison, after having been charged in September 2001 with complicity in the murder of Mr. R. K. Budhahathoki, Chairman of the Bhutan Peoples' Party (BPP). However, at the time of the murder, Mr. Pradhan was allegedly in Kathmandu, which is at a distance of 500 km from Damak as he had just returned from South Africa where he had attended the UN World Conference on Racism. On August 22, 2004, the District Court of Chandragari, in Jhapa, sentenced Mr. S. K. Pradhan to three years imprisonment to be completed on September 21, 2004 and he was effectively released on that day (See Observatory Annual Report 2003, Urgent Appeal NPL 002/0904/OBS 069 as well as Open Letter to the Nepalese authorities, on May 6, 2004).
The Observatory recalls that since his release, Mr. S.K. Pradhan has already been prevented from attending international conferences by the RCU, although his sentence did not include any limitation to his freedom of movement. Thus, Mr. Pradhan and two members of his organisation, Ms. Sunita Pradhan, his daughter, and Mr. D.B. Bhandari, PFHRD Camp Co-ordinator, were denied a Travel Document on November 25, 26 and 27, 2004, and on December 10, 2004, after submitting their request to the RCU on November 10, 2004. As a result, Mr. Pradhan was prevented from attending the World Forum for Democracy in Asia (WFDA) conference in Taiwan, which was held by the Taiwan Forum for Democracy from December 14-17, 2004 (See Observatory Open Letter to the Nepalese authorities, January 10, 2005).
The Observatory is concerned about these restrictions on Mr. Pradhan's freedom of movement and fears that these acts be directly linked to his work in favour of refugees rights in Nepal.
The Observatory recalls that these restrictions on freedom of movement are a violation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular of its article 5, which states that "for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at national and international levels: (c) to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organisations". It also violates article 6 (b) and (c) of the UN Declaration, regarding the right "to freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms" and "to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters".
The Observatory strongly urges the Nepalese authorities:
- to deliver a Travel Document to Mr. S. K. Pradhan and allow him to take part in the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights and in other international meetings, as well as to end all forms of harassment and restrictions on human rights defenders in Nepal.
- to comply with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", and the above-mentioned articles 5 and 6.
- more generally, to guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Nepal.