The Law Society has intervened in the case of a Nepalese human rights lawyer facing prosecution as an ‘anti-Maoist dollar mongerer’.
The Society has called on Nepal’s prime minister Khil Raj Regmi to protect lawyer Mandira Sharma from threats of death and violence.
Sharma is chair of the Advocacy Forum-Nepal and a member of the Accountability Watch Committee, a group of human rights defenders that campaigns against immunity for politicians, paramilitaries and other individuals suspected of war crimes. Other members of the committee have also faced threats.
The threats have been issued primarily through the media, with several articles naming Ms Sharma and other human rights defenders and calling for ‘people's action’ against ‘traitors, enemies of the people, peace-spoilers and dollar mongerers’.
During the conflict period in Nepal, the term ‘people's action’ was commonly used as a justification for violence and killing.
Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: ‘We are very concerned about threats of death and violence against Mandira Sharma and other lawyers in Nepal.
‘Nepal has an obligation to uphold its citizens' civil and political rights. This obligation is clearly stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights − a treaty that Nepal acceded to over 20 years ago, in 1991.
‘Equally, lawyers must be able to carry out their duties without intimidation, without hindrance, and without harassment.’
Threats made against lawyers and human rights defenders are common in Nepal. Less than a month ago, four men with iron rods assaulted the executive director of the Human Rights Alliance, Yadav Prasad Bastola.