Nepal: Trauma treatment should be integral to Nepal's human rights monitoring operation

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Torture, extrajudicial killings, disappearances and other abuses often result in severe trauma for victims and their families. This trauma outlives the violation, leaving an indelible impression on the minds of victims.

Given the large scale of human rights violations occurring throughout Nepal for the last few years, it is inevitable that an enormous number of people will be suffering from trauma. The rights protection of these individuals is impossible without serious attempts to address their psychological needs. Unless this is done effectively, a large section of Nepal's population will not perceive the U.N. human rights monitoring mission to be a serious one. The country's National Human Rights Commission had all but ignored this issue even prior to the February 21, 2005 coup. With the king's recent changes to the Commission, little can be expected from this institution by way of aid for victims of abuse. The entire responsibility thus falls on the U.N. mission in Nepal.

Past U.N. human rights monitoring missions have been lacking in the provision of trauma treatment facilities. This may stem from a limited understanding of human rights monitoring as the pursuit of incidents of human rights abuse with a view to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, there must also be a proportionate focus on the victims of human rights abuse, particularly those suffering from trauma. The Asian Human Rights Commission hopes that a significant approach can be adopted in Nepal regarding the treatment of trauma victims. All that is required are one or more competent psychologists to be included in the staff team of the mission, or, if that poses bureaucratic difficulties, to bring such persons under consultancies sponsored by the mission. There should be no difficulty in finding funds to support such persons, and many professional organizations, if approached, could help to locate them. These persons can perform two main functions. One is to treat victims and create facilities for this treatment, while the second is to train individuals within Nepal to undertake such treatment, thereby laying the foundation for the caring of victims to be a permanent feature in the human rights movement.

Attending to the needs of trauma victims seriously will steadily build trust for the mission in Nepal. Such trust is essential for success in all aspects of human rights monitoring. A sad feature of earlier U.N. missions in Asia has been their isolation from the people. The mission in Nepal may thus contribute a significant feature that could become a trademark of future human rights monitoring. The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the U.N. office to promptly consider this issue and implement it with a sense of urgency.


Asian Human Rights Commission
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984