PUBLIC
    AI Index: ASA 31/153/2004
    11 August 2004

    UA 245/04

    Fear for safety/harassment/arbitrary detention

    NEPAL

    39 male transvestites

    Police arrested 39 metis (male transvestites) in Kathmandu on the night of 9 August, on the street and in public places including bars and restaurants. All are now held in Hanuman Dhoka police station, in Kathmandu. They were reportedly given no food or drinking water for their first 15 hours in custody, and have not been charged with any offence. Other metis are known to have been beaten and raped in police custody, and these 39 are in grave danger.

    All the metis are members of the Blue Diamond Society, a local organisation that provides sexual health, HIV/AIDS and advocacy services to sexual minorities, and campaigns for their rights. The organisation is facing a possible Supreme Court ban on its activities, following a petition from a private individual on 18 June requesting that the Blue Diamond Society be banned because it was “trying to make homosexual activities legal” (Nepal’s National Civil Code outlaws “unnatural sex” although this is not clearly defined). In response, the Supreme Court issued a writ demanding that the Ministry of Home Affairs and other authorities respond demonstrating why such a ban should not be imposed. The authorities have not yet responded.

    Police in Kathmandu are alleged to have raped four metis, Jaya Bahadur Lama, Ramesh Lama, Binod and Madan, in the early hours of 25 July. Following a disturbance at about 3:30 am in a street near Jamal, police reportedly stopped the four metis, forced them into a police van, beat them and took their money. While driving around the city, the van stopped and one officer allegedly took Jaya Bahadur Lama into the street, beat him, forced him to perform oral sex and anally raped him. The metis were then reportedly taken to Gausala police station where Ramesh Lama was taken into the backyard of the police station, beaten and forced to perform oral sex. Although Jaya Bahadur and Ramesh Lama managed to escape from the police, Binod and Madan were kept inside the van and were reportedly beaten and raped by approximately 12 policemen for around three hours. The Blue Diamond Society made a complaint to police authorities about this attack and there is concern that the recent arrests may be retaliation for this complaint.

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION

    Sexual minorities face widespread discrimination and harassment in Nepal. There have recently been an increasing number of violent attacks on Blue Diamond Society members and workers, and other sexual minorities, and the authorities have seemed unwilling to investigate. There have been frequent allegations that sexual minorities have been turned away when they attempt to report assaults to the police. On 5 July, a rally organised by the Blue Diamond Society to protest against recent police harassment of metis was allegedly broken up violently by police, who beat several of the protestors.

    RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
    - calling for the 39 metis arrested on 9 August to be released immediately and unconditionally, unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence;
    - urging that they be treated humanely while in custody and not tortured or ill-treated;
    - urging the authorities to fully investigate all alleged attacks on sexual minorities and the human rights defenders who work with them, including attacks by police, and to bring those responsible to justice;
    - calling on the authorities to respect the rights of sexual minorities to freedom from discrimination, as contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nepal is a state party.

    APPEALS TO:

    Sher Bahadur Deuba (faxes may be switched off outside office hours, GMT+5)
    Prime Minister
    Prime Minister’s Office
    Singha Durbar
    Kathmandu, Nepal
    Fax:+ 977 14 227 286
    Salutation:Dear Prime Minister

    Purna Bahadur Khadka
    Minister of Home Affairs
    Ministry of Home Affairs
    Singha Durbar
    Kathmandu
    Nepal
    Salutation: Dear Minster

    Shyam Bhakta Thapa
    Inspector General of Police
    Police Headquarters
    GPO Box 407
    Naxal
    Kathmandu, Nepal
    Fax: + 977 1 4 415 594
    Salutation: Dear Inspector General

    COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Nepal accredited to your country.

    NEPALS AMBASSAD
    12A, KENSINGTON PALACE GARDENS
    GB-LONDON W8 4QU, UK
    FAX + 44 20-779 298 61
    E-post:101642.43@compuserve.com.uk

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 21 September 2004.

    Source: Amnesty International, International Secretariat,
    1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom