A prisoner of conscience, a former adviser to the King, was sentenced to life imprisonment in November, then pardoned but not released. Hundreds of Nepali-speaking people who had been arrested in 1993 and previous years remained in detention without charge or trial throughout the year. They included possible prisoners of conscience. The use of torture and ill-treatment by the security forces continued to be reported. At least 10,000 Nepali-speaking people from southern Bhutan fled to Nepal, bringing the total who had fled since 1990 to 85,000. Many had left as a result of unrest due to the government policy of national integration on the basis of northern Bhutanese traditions and culture and the continuing census operations which were being conducted in the south of the country to identify Bhutanese nationals (see previous Amnesty International Reports). Among them were many refugees who had been classified as illegal immigrants during the census. Some refugees said that although they had been classified as Bhutanese citizens in the census, local authorities had deliberately taken various measures to force them into exile. Some reported being threatened by local government officials and coerced into signing a migration form which stated they had agreed to accept compensation for their land and leave the country willingly. Some said they had been forced to leave by the authorities because they already had relatives living in refugee camps in eastern Nepal, others because they were relatives of political prisoners being held in Bhutan. Many refugees said that their Bhutanese citizenship identity cards and other papers had been confiscated by the Bhutanese authorities before they left the country. The houses of some refugees were reportedly dismantled by order of the authorities after they had left the country. Attacks on civilians in southern Bhutan, including incidents of armed robbery during which villagers were beaten or stabbed and sometimes killed, continued to be reported throughout the year and were attributed by the government to members of opposition groups, termed "anti-nationals". The governments of Bhutan and Nepal reached an agreement in October that the refugees would be screened and classified into four different categories. Discussion on the mechanism for verification and what would happen to the four categories of refugees was deferred until February 1994. As the local Bhutanese authorities in the south reportedly continued to pressurize Nepali-speakers to leave the country, Bhutan's Head of State, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, apparently sought to counter this by himself visiting villages in the south to try and dissuade the people from leaving. The King also reportedly instructed district administrators not to accept emigration applications without first checking to see whether those submitting them genuinely wished to emigrate. The King also reportedly continued to reject proposals made by some members of the National Assembly that suspected government opponents should be expelled from the country. Tek Nath Rizal, a prisoner of conscience, was convicted in November on four out of nine charges under the National Security Act, 1992, and sentenced to life imprisonment, after a trial lasting 10 months. He had been arrested in 1989 for allegedly initiating unrest among the Nepali-speaking population in the south, after he had petitioned the King over his concerns about the 1988 census and had campaigned against the government's policy of national integration. In a royal decree issued in November, the King pardoned Tek Nath Rizal but said he would only be released after the governments of Nepal and Bhutan had resolved the refugee problem. Hundreds of other suspected government opponents continued to be detained without trial. Some had been held for more than two years. Deo Datta Sharma had completed more than three years in detention without trial by the end of 1993 and many of some 170 or more untried political detainees at Chemgang detention camp had been held for more than two years by the end of 1993. At least 20 other political prisoners were tried during the year but details of the charges, the proceedings and the outcome of their trials were not known. Former political detainees reported that after the International Committee of the Red Cross first visited Chemgang detention camp in January their shackles had been removed and conditions had improved. There were new reports of torture and ill-treatment at police stations and prisons in the south but these were fewer than in previous years. In one case, a former detainee said that he had been beaten on the soles of the feet while in custody at Geylegphug police station and kept handcuffed for eight months while in detention at Lodrai Jail in Geylephug District. There were allegations of abuses by "anti-nationals", but details were difficult to verify. In January Amnesty International told the government that it wished to send an observer to the trial of Tek Nath Rizal, but the authorities refused to permit this. Amnesty International continued to call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for all other political prisoners to be promptly and fairly tried or else released. Amnesty International also sought information about the case of Deo Datta Sharma: in response, the government informed Amnesty International of his place of detention but did not disclose the charges against him or whether his trial had begun.

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