At least 13 victims of torture were recorded in prisons and police custody rooms across the country in 2019, according to Nepal Human Rights Year Book released by the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC).

According to the report, incidents of torture meted out to crime suspects by police have yet to be eliminated despite such cases declining gradually.

“It is a matter of concern whether it is really decreasing or victims are not coming forward with complaints,” the report reads.

Nepal’s constitution guarantees rights against torture as a fundamental right. Nepal is party to the UN Convention against Torture-1984, which mandates to institutionalise effective legal mechanism to end torture.

Courts and the National Human Rights Commission review complaints of torture whereas jails and detention centres are regularly monitored by NHRC, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and human rights organisations.

The OAG monitored 37 jails in 2019 and found that the prisons were accommodating 7,243 inmates despite having total capacity to house only 3,860 inmates.

Monitoring of 37 detention centres at 52 police offices had revealed lack of bathrooms, toilets and beds. The report said placement of health workers at jails and medicine supply were inadequate.

Lack of visiting rooms had infringed on privacy in meetings of inmates with family and lawyers, and many jails had no facilities for skill oriented training and educational activities.

There was also lack of clarity of law on senior citizens to release them in accordance with the law.

Jails staffers lacked motivation and were inadequate in number for meeting their legal obligations towards inmates.

Other challenges include lack of independent monitoring mechanism to prevent torture and inadequate security arrangements for victims and witnesses, according to the report.

Health check-up at arrest and upon release also remain to be enforced at jails.