The United Nations is calling on the Nepalese government to investigate the disappearance of 170 people that occurred during the insurgency in Nepal between December 2001 and January 2003. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report on its investigations into these cases.
The 99-page report documents alleged abductions by security forces and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist. These abductions occurred in Nepal's Bardiya District between 2001 and 2003 during the communist insurgency.

The report blames 156 of the 170 disappearances on the Nepalese security forces. It says most of these people disappeared following their arrest by the former Royal Nepalese Army. It says the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force were responsible for a smaller number of cases.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the Maoists abducted 14 people. He says the former communist rebels admitted killing 12 of the victims.

"The fate of most of those who disappeared at the hand of the State authorities in Bardiya District remains officially unknown. So, we still do not know where these people are for the most part. Despite repeated requests for clarification by their families and by human rights organizations, including OHCHR [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights]. But, the report cites credible witness testimonies suggesting that a number of the detainees were killed while in custody or shortly afterwards," he said. "The report also documents in considerable detail the systematic use of torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment in the Royal Nepalese Army's Chisapani Barracks."

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it believes nearly a thousand people remain missing across the country following the abductions.

Colville says the High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, is calling on the Nepalese government to set up an independent and credible commission to investigate all forced disappearances.

Pillay says ensuring justice and redress in these cases would provide relief to the victims and would constitute an important step forward in Nepal's peace process.

Colville says these disappearances may have occurred years ago. But, he says until the cases are clarified, the families of the victims will continue to suffer.

"I think the key factor is these are cases that are still alive. The people they are about may not still be alive. But, the cases are still alive. The relatives still do not know what has happened to them," added Colville. "And so, it is not a sort of insignificant part of distant history. It is still really current."

Nepal's Bardiya district was one of the Maoist strongholds during the communists' decade-long insurgency. The U.N. report says the people who disappeared at the hands of the Maoists were considered army informants. It says most of the victims were abducted from their homes, or close to their villages.