Media Conference

Evidence based Report On Violation of Human Rights among drug users community in Butwal, Nepal

Background of the Report

Police harassment and Human Rights violation among drug users in the country is not new phenomenon, this has been practiced since drug users were identified in the country in 1960. Beating on the street, taking to the custody without reason, blaming for the others crime and pressurize to own up crimes without being guilty is common among drug users community. Drug users and alcoholic also targeted by Maoist (communist political party) in the name of revolution on culture. During the post conflict and peace process in the county, young communist league YCL also started harassing drug user and alcoholics.
In September 3rd 2009 Thursday evening at 9:30 pm NEWS and information circulated from Buttwal (Rupandehi District in Western Region) police violated Rights of Drug users and many drug users were arrested and physical assault was very badly in front of police office in Buttwal. Recovering Nepal, Network of Drug users had emergency meeting to address the issues and request meeting at UN to take future action. Information shared with the concerned people nationally and internationally , INGOs, Ministry of Health, ministry of Home Affairs and Human Rights Commission. Emergency meetings at RN and UNODC at 2 pm on Friday 4th September 2009 decided these actions towards the incidents:

- Form rapid respond team to visit the place where the incident was taking place. Buttwal
- collect evidence and testimony of the Human Rights violation
- Task team will Report will share report in Kathmandu after completion of the field visit.
- Future advocacy strategies will be develop after the final report.

Objectives of the task force

- To solve immediate problem of drug users who were assaulted by the police
- To collect information and testimonies
- To prepare evidence report on incident

Advocacy and movement started throughout the country

Second day 4th September, 2009 drug users in the county informed each region and district to support the issues and take action toward government authority and police. Forums of drug users throughout the country united and stared series of Advocacy and voices against violating rights of drug users in Buttwal.
(Pokhara - west, Dharan - east Jhapa east, Morang- east, Bhairawaha- west, Dhangadi – Far west, Chitwan- Central, Kathmandu Capital) Advocacy even ( Rally, rally with fire torch, road blocks/strikes, Press conference, delegation to the police and chief of District offices to submit Birodh Patra and press release) to raise voice on Buttwal incident.

Process

- Meeting with group
- Meeting and interview with the police
- Testimony with the drug users and other witnesses
- Gather oral testimony of the people who are directly involved in the incidence.
- Collect News coverage and media reporting

Group Meeting and discussion

On the 6th of September 2009, a group meeting among the Drug users community was called by Committee Member of a Rapid Response. The objective of the meeting was to collect first hand information from the local eyewitness. The venue of the meeting was in Astha Samuha, Butwal and the meeting was held at 7:30 p.m. The total numbers of participants in the meeting were 37 people from different organizations and community. With the help of the meeting a consensus of the group was established for further detailed investigation among the participants, victims and eyewitnesses.
Incident briefed by the participants:
- One of the Sub Inspector (In uniform) with other three police staff of the Butwal visited the Snooker house (Adharsa nagar) at around 8:30 pm. The sub inspector was looking for MR. Gopal (the victim who was arrested by the police) and asked him to step out of the Snooker house without explaining the issue. Once Mr. Gopal was out of the Snooker House the Police started searching his body, when the police did not find anything the Sub-inspector asked Mr. Gopal for his Mobile number. Mr. Gopal replied the Sub Inspector regarding the fact that he did not owned a Mobile phone then the police started accusing Mr. Gopal to be a rowdy and started to push him into the police Van. Then Mr. Gopal was brought to the police custody in Butwal.
- As per the observation of the group present in the meeting: they said that the police was harassing Mr. Gopal and His family by asking for a bribe to run the snooker house in the town. However, in spite of numerous threats from the police, Mr. Gopal and his family did not entertain the police with a bribe. Due to the fact the participants states that" it’s a punishment/revenge for not bribing the police".
- The recommendation of the group: the Inspector and some of his subordinate staff were harassing and marginalizing drug users without any good reason. The group recommended that "the Present Inspector {Mr. Hira Pandey (Inspector In-Charge) and Jiv Lal Chudali (sub inspector)} of the town should be testified and should be brought to trial" otherwise the community fears these types of harassment in near future also.
(The information was collected from member of recovering Nepal, Astha samuha, society support group and recovering community. The key informers were Rajen Khadka, Pralad Malla, Suman Dhital and Ramesh Magar)

Summary of the Oral Testimony

Mr. Gopal Neupane (owner of the snooker house /who was arrested by the police)

Time: 10:30 am

Date: 7th September 2009

Venue: Butwal police Station (Office of Inspector In-Charge)

Mr. Gopal stated that "at around 8:00 pm the sub-inspector and his squad came to the snooker house and asked him to shut down the place before 9:30 pm.” Then the police asked me to come out of the Snooker house for further interrogation and once I stepped out of the building the police started to search my body. They could not find anything on me and started to ask for my Mobile number, as I don’t own a mobile phone and said the same to the police but then the police started to scold me by saying that" how could a Business man like him not own a mobile phone" and then they pushed me inside the van and took me into the custody. As per Mr. Gopals testimony he was not harassed in the custody that night or during his stay in the custody.

Mr. Siva Bista recovering drug users form Buttwal

Time: 10:30 am

Date: 8 th September 2009

Venue: Hotel in Buttwal

I was informed by the drug user’s community to meet at the police station to support Gopal’s cause. Then I reached the police station at around 9:00 pm and I saw that some of the community members were having an argument with the sentry regarding Gopal’s case. All of a sudden the police started to charge with their baton and then I started running for my protection but the police hit me on my head. I felt a Sharp pain in the back of my head then I fainted and the next thing that I remembered is waking up in middle of many people. Then I was taken to clinic for medical attention.

Mr. Min Sen (Executive member of Recovering Nepal )

Time: 10:30 am

Date: 8 th September 2009

Venue: Hotel in Buttwal

Similar to that of Mr. Shiva Bista’s case, I was informed by the drug user’s community to meet at the police station to support Gopal’s cause. I reached the police station at around 9:00 pm and I saw that some of the community members were having an argument with the sentry regarding Gopal’s case and then I tired to stabilize things. I have been working in the field of drug addiction since quite some time and I knew most of the police personals through my professional career. I wanted to meet the Inspector in order to resolve the issue. However, despite of my numerous requests to the sentry, he did not let me meet the Inspector. Soon after that the police indiscriminately started to charge with their baton and then I tired flee from the scene to avoid Lahti charge but I got hit with a baton on my left shoulder.

Mr. Bijay Basnet (from drug users community )

Time: 12: PM

Date: 7 th September 2009

Venue: his house

As in the case of others I was informed by the drug user’s community to meet at the police station to support Gopal’s cause. When I reach the police station I saw that some of the community members were having an argument with the sentry regarding Gopal’s case and then I joined the group in order to understand the issue. In no time the police indiscriminately started to charge with their baton, I don’t remember much but I got hit with a baton on my right leg and fractured my foot. Then I was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Mrs. Nur Kala Neupane (Mr. Gopal`s mother )

Time: 1pm

Date: 7 th September 2009

Venue: side of snooker house, Adarsha Nagar, Buttwal

Mrs. Nur Kala Neupane stated that the police were harassing Mr. Gopal and me from time to time by asking for money as a bribe to run the snooker house in the locality. As per her version, they agreed to give a little sum of money to the police to avoid any type unnecessary harassment but the police refused to take the offer and asked for a big amount. She says that the root cause of the incident is not only limited to the night of 6th September 2009 but an issue which has been haunting the region since decades.
Mrs. Neupane stated that she was in a shop nearby the snooker house, as she came out of the shop to go home she saw her son being pushed in a police van. She requested the Sub Inspector to release her son but he just didn’t listen to her. Mr. Gopal was taken to the custody and then she informed Mr. Himal Gauchan and other drug user for help.

Summary of the Interviews

Time: 10:30 am

Date: 7th September 2009

Venue: Butwal police Station (Office of Inspector In-Charge)

Interview was conduct among the police inspector and his subordinate staffs:

As per the version of the police, there was a rumor in Butwal stating that there would be an indefinite strike and the general public was pretty tensed. The IC explained that the snooker house was located in the corner of the town were young people from different backgrounds used to hang out. The snooker house used to attract lot of attention from the public due to the noise made by the youngsters. As per Mr. Pandey, on the day of the incident local community had complained the police verbally regarding the noise being made at the snooker house (But there is no written documentation of the complaint filed by the locals). Consequently, the sub inspector and his squad visited the location as their routine patrolling and remanded Mr. Gopal for Further interrogation.

Suddenly, at 9:30 pm a group of Youths came to the custody and started to demand for Mr. Gopal release in an inappropriate manner. The group of youngsters was informed to come tomorrow for solution but the group did not agree and started an argument with the sentry saying that they wanted a written commitment from the Police and eventually the sentry was pushed by the mob. The IC stated that "According to the security rules and regulation police has every right to use force in order to maintain the security of the station, if the case gets out of hand than they are even allowed to use their fire power. However, in this case the IC states that” we used minimum amount of force (Baton charge) to disburse and stabilize the violent mob”. Before that police suggest that "come tomorrow and we will release him" but group did not agree and forced to written commitment.

As per the IC, he stated that the people from the recovering group was acquainted with him and was involved in several programs in the district. The IC stated that “However, nobody called me to discuss the issue in a sensible manner. The incidents would not have happened if someone called and informed me. “

The case has been filed to the district court as a general case as per the protocol of LAW of Nepal.
Sub Inspector: also added that during the investigation at the snooker house Mr. Gopal misbehaved with the police personal and due to the fact he was taken in remand for further action.

Meetings with high-level personnel in the district

Mr. Bigyan Sharma (SSP district in charge) on 7th September 2009 at 2pm

The rapid respond team visited district police office in Bhairawaha to meet with senior superintendent of police (district in charge) to discuss the issues (Human Rights Violence among Drug uses in the district and the recent incident of Buttwal). SSP was already aware of the incident and had received orders from the DIG Mr. Navaraj Dhakal (regional In-charge) to overview the incident.