Individuals of Minority Groups in Nepal Tortured and Killed in Detention

Individuals of Minority Groups in Nepal Tortured and Killed in Detention
A person held in police custody. © Enrico Hänel, September 16th, 2020, via Pexels, at


Pauliina Majasaari

Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence



On October 10, 2021, Mohammad Hakim Miyan died within the custody of the district police. The cause of his death is still unknown even though a committee was set up to investigate the same. On July 30, 2021, Paltu Ravidas was also found dead at the district police office. The police argued that he hanged himself, however his mother thinks he died of torture in custody and that the police are trying to cover it up by stating that he died of suicide. Alarmingly, these are not the only custodial deaths that have occurred of late and most of the deceased belong to minority groups within Nepal, such as the Dalits or Madhesi communities.


Nepal has a long history of oppressing and discriminating persons belonging to minority communities, such as Christians, Muslims, Dalits, Chepang and Raute. Furthermore, the civil war from 1996 to 2006 created instability and affected the political, social, and economic state of Nepal. A major component of the conflict included discrimination and violence targeted against minority groups. There exists a lack of state protection of minority groups resulting in discrimination, violence and harassment perpetrated by government officials, law enforcement agencies as well as the general public. As mentioned by the mother of one of the deceased, “In society, non-Dalits beat and harass Dalits. They do the same in custody.”

Torture entails the act of intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person, which can be physical or mental, for reasons such as discrimination of any kind or obtaining a confession, and which is done by or through the consent or instigation of a public official or anyone acting in official capacity, as set out in Article 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). According to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), no one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover, the CAT sets out protective measures regarding legislation and for the conduct of authorities in cases related to acts of torture. Firstly, Article 2 sets the obligation of every state to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial, or other measures to prevent torture, with no available justifications. Secondly, Article 4 sets out that the states are obliged to ‘ensure that all acts of torture are offences under criminal law’. Thirdly, in line with Article 12, the competent authorities of the state must conduct a ‘prompt and impartial investigation’ if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an act of torture has been carried out.


The actions by the Nepalese officials and police officers are in contradiction with the rights and guarantees set out in the ICCPR and the CAT. Firstly, Article 7 of the ICCPR is violated as there is evidence and signs of beatings, bruises, wounds, and injuries on bodies, acts which cause severe physical pain and suffering. Additionally, the persons were held in custody of the police, which are regarded as public officials, while receiving these injuries. Moreover, the reasons for inflicting severe injuries on these persons are based on discrimination as the torture victims represent minority groups in Nepal as well as to receive a confession out of a person. The police said to one detainee, “If you don’t confess only your body will leave this room”. For the aforementioned reasons, the acts conducted by the Nepalese police officials amount to the act of torture, as reiterated under article 1 of the CAT. Secondly, even though Nepal has legislation in place for the prohibition of torture, it is not in line with Article 2 of the CAT as the legislation in place cannot be said to be effective as acts of torture by the police officials are still taking place. Third, Nepal is not abiding by Article 4 of CAT as the police officials do not get prosecuted for their actions, the state is more likely to protect the perpetrators as requests for investigations are refused by the Attorney General’s Office. The protection of the perpetrators goes as far as trying to bribe families by offering jobs and hiding evidence, and thereby covering up the incidents of torture. Lastly, the obligation under Article 12 of CAT is not followed as the administration for investigating acts of torture is not effective. Either investigations of torture are not taking place or are conducted only after wide spread protest on the matter. Further, the reports of investigations are not made public.


Therefore, as expressed by various international and national human rights organisations, Nepal is urged to amend its criminal legislation and enforce it in an effective manner to bring the perpetrators before courts and prosecute them for the offences conducted in line with the provisions of the ICCPR and CAT, of which it is a party. Additionally, Nepal is urged to effectively respond to requests of investigation on acts of torture and publish the reports of committees of inquiry to the public.

Sources and further readings:

  1. Rohej Khatiwada, ‘Serial deaths in police custody in Terai raise alarm’ (CIJ, January 26th 2023) <> accessed March 6th 2024.
  2. Prabin Kumar Yadav, ‘Why does Nepal fail to protect minority rights’ (Ratopati, April 28th 2023) <> accessed March 6th 2024.
  3. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (adopted 10 December 1984, entered into force 26 June 1987) 1465 UNTS 85 (CAT).
  4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted 16 December 1966, entered into force 23 March 1976) 999 UNTS 171 (ICCPR).
  5. ‘The Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (Control) Bill, 2014’ (International Commission of Jurists, June 2016) <> accessed March 6th 2024.
  6. ‘Nepal: Events of 2023’ (Human Rights Watch) <> accessed March 6th 2024.