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Nepal: Policemen released

11-10-2001 News Release 01/40

Following two rounds of talks and prior to a third one, the government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) have embarked on a series of mutual confidence-building measures. As a result, over the past few weeks both sides have been releasing detainees on an ad-hoc basis, without the presence of a neutral intermediary

On 2 and 6 October ICRC delegates were formally involved for the first time in the release of people detained by the Maoists when a total of 25 policemen were handed over to the ICRC before being transferred to the regional headquarters of the Nepal Police in Nepalgunj. A team of ICRC delegates was flown in to conduct private interviews with the policemen and check their state of health, in accordance with standard ICRC procedures.

The ICRC faces particularly difficult working conditions in this region. Many remote hill districts are inaccessible by car since there are practically no roads, and delegates must often walk for several days before reaching their destination.

Acting on the basis of its right of humanitarian initiative, the ICRC approached the Nepalese government in August 1998 and requested permission to carry out protection work in connection with the security situation. The first ICRC visit to a jail took place in December 1998. Two years later, the ICRC also started visiting people in police custody, in full accordance with the organization's working methods. To date the ICRC has conducted more than 200 visits in 60 jails and 42 police stations throughout Nepal and has registered more than 800 people detained in connection with the Maoist insurgency .