Anti-Graft Body Should Follow Procedures in Nepal
May 4, NY: The Nepal government’s Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) should scrupulously follow the order of the Supreme Court to abide by proper procedures while conducting its investigation into prominent journalist and activist Kanak Mani Dixit, Human Rights Watch said today. The Supreme Court ordered Dixit’s release on May 2, 2016, after he was held for 10 days on an arrest warrant issued by the CIAA.
The CIAA arrested Dixit on April 22, claiming that he had refused to cooperate with its investigation into possible corruption. Dixit provided evidence that he had responded to the CIAA. A special CIAA court on April 24 then remanded Dixit into judicial custody pending further investigation. While in custody, Dixit had serious health problems that required hospitalization. After his release, he was admitted to intensive care.
“The Supreme Court’s order to release Kanak Mani Dixit once again shows that the country’s highest court stands as the last guardian against executive overreach and the breakdown of the rule of law,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “While the CIAA has every right to conduct its investigations independently, it must do so without abusing its own extraordinary authority, especially on detention, and comply with this directive from the country’s highest court.”
Dixit is a longstanding critic of successive Nepali governments. He has advocated the cause of victims of Nepal’s civil war, criticizing the government and political parties for failing to hold perpetrators of abuses accountable. Dixit is a key member of Accountability Watch Committee, a leading nongovernmental organization working to find justice for war crimes and related abuses. In 2006 Dixit was arrested by order of then-King Gyanendra for objecting to the king’s unconstitutional usurpation of power and the suspension of Nepal’s nascent democracy.
Dixit has been under scrutiny by the CIAA for allegedly failing to report financial gains from Sajha Yatayat, a public transportation company. Following a series of CIAA investigations in 2015, Dixit filed a writ before the Supreme Court in December alleging systematic procedural violations by the CIAA in its investigation against him. The Supreme Court essentially upheld the motion and directed the CIAA to act strictly in accordance with its procedural mandate. In spite of this verdict, the CIAA arrested Dixit on April 22, claiming he had refused to cooperate with its investigations.
Dixit has long claimed that the CIAA has targeted him for persecution and harassment because of his vocal opposition to the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki as CIAA chief commissioner. Dixit objected to Karki’s appointment because of an indictment against Karki by an independent commission looking into alleged illegal government actions against protesters during the country’s 2006 pro-democracy uprising.
Dixit has played a leading role in South Asian journalism for decades. His arrest prompted calls for his release by leading members of the media and civil society in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
“The CIAA has an important job to do, but Nepali government authorities should be extremely careful not to take action that looks like retribution against critics,” said Adams. “The CIAA should now meticulously ensure that due process of law is followed in this case.”
The Oslo Times/HRW