UN concern at tainted Nepal general's promotion

UN concern at tainted Nepal general's promotion  Kathmandu, Dec 25 : The UN has expressed concern at the Nepal government's decision to promote an army officer whose brigade ran a secret torture camp and who is alleged to be responsible for the disappearance of 49 prisoners, saying he and others should not be promoted until a transparent and unbiased enquiry was conducted.

Richard Bennett, chief of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights-Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal), issued a statement expressing concern about the promotion of Major General Toran Bahadur Singh to lieutenant general and second-in-command of the Nepal Army despite widespread opposition.

"OHCHR's position since 2006 has been consistent," the UN official said. "Those implicated in credible allegations of human rights violations committed by members of the 10th Brigade in 2003 and in 2004, when General Singh was in command, should not be promoted pending completion of a full, transparent and impartial investigation."

Ignoring calls by human rights organisations at home and abroad, Nepal's communist-led government Thursday decided to promote Singh under whose command soldiers ran a torture camp during the Maoist insurgency and executed dozens of people secretly detained on suspicion of helping the guerrillas.

Three years ago, an investigation by the OHCHR revealed that the detention camp was run in the heart of the capital where people suspected to be Maoists or sympathisers were kept blindfolded and manacled and severely tortured.

Nearly 50 prisoners still remain untraced and are believed to have been killed and buried in mass graves by the army.

The UN rights agency said that though Singh was not directly involved in the torture and killings, he still remained responsible for the behaviour of his troops since he headed the chain of command.(IANS)