Judicial actors reject the use of forced confessions in Nepal

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and police join forces in Nepal to challenge the extraction of confessions and other statements by ill-treatment and torture. This impressive combination of key criminal justice actors will discuss what should be done by their respective institutions to reject the reliance on torture-tainted evidence in the future.

Over the next few weeks, stakeholder forum events will be held across Nepal. Using data collected over the last six months, criminal justice actors will seek to address challenges in the extraction and use of confession evidence. With this detailed examination of the criminal justice process, stakeholders are taking important steps to ensure that torture-tainted confessions will be rejected, that the fundamental rights of defendants better protected, and that those who collect evidence using torture or other prohibited treatment will be severely sanctioned.

By working together, criminal justice actors are making a stand to reject torture-tainted evidence, and in doing so, significantly reducing the primary incentive for police to commit torture in Nepal. They propose that judges examine all confession evidence from accused persons for signs of torture and that they ask critical questions of prosecutors and police who bring such evidence before them. Prosecutors should take an active role to ensure that the police do not collect tainted evidence. The police should recognise that they cannot ask the court to rely on such confessions, and that presenting this evidence will result in a criminal investigation of their own conduct.

These focussed examinations are made possible through a joint project of APT and Advocacy Forum, an experienced NGO that has worked across Nepal since 2001 to promote the rule of law and uphold international human rights standards. The project will run over a period of two years. Over 600 detainees will be interviewed and criminal justice actors from across Nepal will examine first-hand accounts of torture and ill-treatment, to reduce the risks in police custody. The project is supported by the cantons of Geneva and Basel City.