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Nepali police 'torture' children in custody

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-11-19

A prominent international human rights group has accused the Nepali police of torturing children, some as young as 13 years, in custody and has called on the Maoist-led government to stop the practice. The police however deny the practice continues.

Nepal's Maoist-led government must end the widespread torture and ill-treatment of children in police custody and punish those found guilty of abuses, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The group, citing "consistent and reliable" reports, said police used kicking, fist blows to the body and inserting of metal nails under children's toenails as common methods of torture.

Children were also hit on the thighs, upper arms, backs of hands, backs, and the soles of feet with bamboo sticks and plastic pipes, the New York-based group said in a statement.

"The Nepali police have a duty to protect children and to prevent crime," said Bede Sheppard, the group's Asia researcher. "Instead, by torturing children in custody they are committing crimes against those they are supposed to be protecting."

Police spokesman Binod Singh denied children were tortured now and said 187 police personnel including officers had been punished for past abuses in the last two years.

"We have launched an awareness programme to educate the force about protecting human rights and no one is tortured now," Singh said.

Human Rights Watch said it received "credible" claims of more than 200 cases of torture or abuse committed by members of the Nepali police against boys and girls, some as young as 13.

Most children abused by the police were suspected of committing petty crimes, or were children living or working on the streets, it said, adding sometimes children were tortured to extract confessions.

"Despite the widespread nature of abuses against children in police custody, no government official has ever been prosecuted for the torture of children under the Children's Act," it said.

Date created : 2008-11-19

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