NEPAL: A child is in danger after he is tortured by the family of a policeman; his lawyers are threatened


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is extremely concerned for the safety and health of a young boy, after he was badly tortured by the family of a police inspector. The 14 year old boy worked as a domestic helper in the house of Police Inspector Chet Bahadur Pathak in Kathmandu, and was violently interrogated and brutally assaulted by his employers. After his rescue by local people we are told that the lawyers of several organizations who helped him were threatened, and that Maoist-affiliated persons have influenced the handing of the boy to his aunt, who returned him to the house of his abusers. The condition of the boy is currently unknown.


According to the information we have received from the Advocacy Forum, an NGO, Ghan Shyam Mahato, 14, had been working as a domestic helper in the house of Police Inspector Chet Bahadur Pathak in Kathmandu Metropolitan-6, Tenzing chowk, Kapan, Kathmandu district since 30 September 2009. A few days after his arrival, his employers reportedly started scolding and beating him for small mistakes. It is reported that he has never received any salary for his work.

It is alleged that on 2 June 2010, Inspector Pathak's wife Ms. Sushila Pathak, 42, her married daughter Ms. Pramila Pathak, 22, son Mr. Pramod Pathak, 20, and brother-in-law Mindhoj Karki, 30, accused the boy of having stolen NRS 60,000 from them and assaulted systematically, interrogation-style, him from 9am to 1.30pm to make him confess to the theft. The child denied the accusations.

We are told that at first Pramod Pathak reportedly punched and kicked the victim while questioning him about the location of the stolen money; then Ms. Shusila Pathak and Ms. Pramila Pathak systematically burned him with hot iron rods. We are told that Ms. Shushila Pathak also involved her brother Mr Mindhoj Karki, after which the boy was held by his hands and legs, and the soles of his feet were cut with blades, before sour-mixed salt was poured on his wounds.

At this point persons living in the same house were alerted by the screams of the boy and went to inquire.

The boy eventually managed to run away and found shelter in a nearby stationery shop where he told the shopkeeper about the torture. However the Inspector's son Pramod arrived took the boy back to his house and detained him there. We are told that he was gagged with a scarf. Nevertheless, local people eventually managed to enter the house and take him to Kanti Bal Hospital, Kathmandu. He was admitted, and placed under the care of CIWIS, an organisation working in the child sector.

On 3 June 2010, some local people filed a case at the Metropolitan Police Circle (MPC), Boudha, under Public Offence Act 2027 on behalf of the victim. The next day, eight organisations working in the human rights and the children sectors - after pressuring the Chief District Officer - jointly filed an FIR at the Metropolitan Police Circle, Boudha, under an Attempt to Murder charge.

At first, three of the perpetrators, Ms. Sushila Pathak, Ms. Pramila Pathak and Mr. Pramod Pathak, were remanded for five days by the District Administration Office. When the charge was amended to Attempt to Murder, the case was subsequently transferred to the district court. On 1st July Mr. Pramod Pathak and Ms. Pramila Pathak were released on Rs. 8.000 bail and Ms. Sushila Pathak was sent to jail on trial. An arrest warrant is pending against Mindhoj Karki who is absconding.

However worryingly, the lawyers representing the victim claim to have been threatened several times by the families of the perpetrators, who have links with the Maoists. On 5 July, CIWIS representative Mr. Pradeep Dongol, one of the lawyers who took part in the boy's rescue and who filed the FIR, was manhandled by persons known to the perpetrators. Deepak Karki, Mindhoj Karki's brother, warned the lawyers that they would destroy their organisation if his relatives were sentenced to jail.

We are further informed that the Maoists-affiliated lawyers and supporters further intervened in the case, claiming that they were acting on behalf of civil society, to demand that the boy should be handed over to his aunt. The perpetrators' side further tried to settle the case by offering Rs. 3 lakhs as compensation.

On 3rd June, 2010 the Chief District Officer (CDO) wrote a formal letter to CIWIS asking them to take care of the boy. However, on 5th July, the boy was presented again before the CDO who ordered that he be handed over to his aunt. The aunt then informed the CDO of her decision to leave the boy in the house where he had been tortured. Although the boy refused to return there, she was allowed to leave with him, and on 6 July 2010 he was returned to Mindhoj Karki, the absconded perpetrator's residence. His location and whereabouts are now unknown.


Threats and intimidation against individuals and lawyers taking up issues of human rights violations are common in Nepal. The Advocacy Forum website indicates that within one year, the organisation has reported 19 incidents relating to the security of its staff alone.

The absence of a mechanism designed to protect the victims reporting their case, their relatives, their lawyers or their witnesses, coupled with the general climate of impunity which continues to prevail in the country allows threats and harassment of human rights defenders to perpetuate. Regular interference of political parties within the course of justice since the end of the conflict adds to those elements to create a situation in which the independence of lawyers is regularly encroached upon and which further exposes them within the process of their work. In April 2009, for instance, the Young Communist League cadres in Surkhet district physically interrupted a court hearing demanding rigorous punishment of a suspect and locked-up his lawyer, Mr. Nanda Ram Bhandari, in his chamber. There was great concern when the police refused to register any case against those who had hampered the trial.

The 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers remind in their article 16(a) that 'governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference' and in their article 17 that 'where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities'. It is therefore a governmental obligation to create an environment favourable to the independent exercise of the legal profession.

This case makes it very clear that the intervention of a third party within the course of justice negatively impacts the rights of the victim, on one hand leading the CDO to take a decision in clear contradiction to the victim’s interest (his being handed over to his aunt) and on the other hand through the intimidation of his lawyers hampering his rights to a legal remedy, entrenched in the article 2.3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


Please join us in writing to the authorities listed below to ask for the protection of the child and the human rights lawyers defending his case and for the sanctioning of the perpetrators.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights defenders.

Source: AHRC Urgent Appeals