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ACHR Press Release
ACHR Index: PR/NEP/01/12/03
3 December 2003

Nepal urged to disband counter insurgency Village Defence Forces

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) expressed serious concerns about the formation of the Village Defense Force (VDF) by the Royal Nepal Army and urged the government of Nepal to disband the VDFs and find a political solution to the crisis rather than promoting more violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. As an experiment, the Royal Nepal Army in the last week of November 2003 formed VDFs at Larumba of Bajo Village Development Committee in Ilam district, recruited 30 militias and provided them with arms training and necessary weapons.

The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials require the governments and law enforcement agencies to adopt and implement rules and regulations on the use of force and firearms against persons by law enforcement officials. "However, the VDFs have no formal training or rules and regulations under what circumstances the fire-arms could be used or the hierarchy to keep the ethical issues associated with the use of force and firearms constantly under review. The formation of VDFs is a concrete step towards the leading the country to full scale civil war as it blurs the distinctions between civilians and combatants." -stated Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR.

"The civilians are being forced to decide whether they are with the government or not as refusal to join the VDFs will be construed as supporting the Maoists" - further stated Chakma.

The formation of VDFs is nothing but an attempt to rewrite the Nepal's version of the history of gross human rights violations in Latin America. The militia and vigilante groups like the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia and Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil of Guatemala have failed to counter insurgency but were responsible for gross and widespread human rights violations. While examining Peru's human rights record in 1992, the United Nations Human Rights Committee held that that "The acceptance by the Government of Civilian vigilante groups that have full army support, .. has worsened the situation".[END]

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