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Nepal: ICRC assists in the release of policemen

02-10-2001 News Release 01/36

Geneva/Kathmandu (ICRC) - On 2 October, 17 Nepalese policemen detained by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) were released under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The release took place in Surkhet district, some 600 kilometres west of Kathmandu, where the policemen were handed over to a team of ICRC delegates who had previously interviewed them in private and checked their state of health.

The policemen were later transferred by the ICRC to the regional headquarters of the Nepal Police in Nepalgunj. The Swiss Red Cross, which is working in Nepal, provided the ICRC with logistical support to carry out the operation.

Since 1998, the ICRC has been visiting people detained by the government of Nepal in connection with the situation in the country. So far, however, it had never visited people detained by the Maoists or assisted in their release.

" This operation is a major step forward in our dialogue with the Maoists, " said Jean-Jacques Bovay, head of the ICRC office in Nepal. " We hope that it will also facilitate the programmes we are planning to launch in the areas where they are active. The present operation is perfectly suited to the ICRC's role as a neutral intermediary between both parties. "

The ICRC has had a permanent office in Nepal since 1999. It carries out programmes to disseminate international humanitarian law and helps the Nepal Red Cross Society to build its capacities in various areas.