Katwal v. Nepal

Key Judgment

Legal Relevance

Keywords: Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Deprivation of Liberty | Reparations | Judicial Protection | Juridical Personality

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Memory and Reparations | Justice and Truth | Related Crimes

The Committee found that the victim's killing in army custody and the lack of effective investigation by the State constituted a violation of his right to life, in light of the fact that after 13 years the circumstances of the victim's death had not been clarified and the perpetrators had not been held accountable. The Committee made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim, in light of the acts of torture to which he was exposed and his incommunicado detention. It also made such a finding with respect to his family, in light of the anguish caused by the victim's disappearance, the failure of the State to provide an adequate reparation, the alleged threats against and ill-treatment of his relatives, the misleading explanations provided by the authorities about his whereabouts, and the continued impossibility of obtaining the victim's remains. The Committee also held that the arrest and detention of the victim constituted a violation of his right to liberty and security, as he was detained without being notified about the reasons for his arrest and never brought before a judge. Finally, in light of the fact that the authorities repeatedly provided the victim's family with misleading information about his fate, making it impossible to find him, the Committee found that the victim’s enforced disappearance deprived him of the protection of the law.

Judgment Date

April 1, 2015



Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 6 [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9(1) [ICCPR], Article 9(2) [ICCPR], Article 9(3) [ICCPR], Article 9(4) [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 10 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Chakra Bahadur Katwal, headmaster of a school, disappeared in December 2001 after being directed to the army barracks in the aftermath of an appointment at the District Education Office. He was last seen the following day, injured and apparently unconscious, when soldiers were carrying him from the army barracks to the District Police Office. Mr. Katwal's wife tried on numerous occasions to establish his whereabouts, with no success. In January 2005, Mr. Katwal's daughter was arrested and interrogated by the Royal Nepalese Army, and ill-treated during the six weeks of her detention. She was then released in March 2005 in exchange for money. In January 2005, Mr. Katwal's wife was arrested by a group of soldiers. During the following 13 days, she was repeatedly beaten, insulted and interrogated by military personnel about her and her daughter’s political connections, and finally released after her identity was verified. In August 2006, the Supreme Court ordered the establishment of the Prisoner Investigation Team, charged with investigating the status of a number of persons, including Mr. Katwal, and identifying the persons and authorities involved in the arrest. The Team's report provided details of the torture and ill-treatment Mr. Katwal was subjected to while in illegal detention, establishing that army officers tried to cover up the circumstances of his death and identifying the individuals allegedly responsible. The Supreme Court confirmed those findings in 2007, ordering the prosecution of those responsible for the disappearance and death, and instructing the payment of relief to the next of kin of the victim. Mr. Katwal’s family was provided with money from the authorities but did not receive any compensation as relatives of a disappeared person. The prosecution of those responsible has not taken place. Mr. Katwal's body was never returned to his family.

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