Squatters in Valley hate police but can’t do without: Report
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Thursday, 04 August 2016

Kathmandu: Members of squatter communities in Kathmandu, who live in constant fear of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment, dread police the most but turn to them for help in crisis, according to a report.

The report titled Torture and Ill-Treatment: Perceptions, Experience and Justice-seeking in Kathmandu’s Squatter Community, released on Tuesday, claims high prevalence of torture and ill-treatment in squatter settlements.

A total of 67.3 percent respondents of the 750 households surveyed for the report said they fear police the most while 57.5 percent said political actors and parties also cause panic.

“Interestingly, despite the antagonism toward government authorities, political parties/actors and organisations, residents of squatter settlements also tend to exhibit a high degree of reliance on them for any form of recourse to justice,” said the report.
The study, which was jointly conducted by the Social Science Baha and the University of Edinburgh in Kathmandu, had sampled 10 out of 44 squatter settlements in Kathmandu. It also looks at the tools adopted by the rights organisations to document incidents of rights violation in such settlements.
The research has found that the rights organisations, those mostly focused on torture, document incidents of torture in police custody but squarely omit the incidents that take place in the daily lives of these people.

The Advocacy Forum, in its report, has claimed an increase in incidents of torture to 17 percent in 2015 from 16 percent in 2014.
“The prevalence of torture must be higher than what is available in public domain as the data is based on incidents of police custody,” said Jeevan Sharma, one of the researchers.

Incidents of torture and ill-treatment have yet to be criminalised, which is possibly a factor for low rate of reporting cases. Besides, the deficit of trust in state authorities is another reason why they do not reach out for help.
Ironically, 70 percent respondents said they reach out to police for help in a crisis, while 74.5 percent said they share the situation with family, friends and relatives. “They reach out to police through middlemen or a person they know,” said Sharma.

Bandita Sijapati, another researcher, highlighted the need for redefining torture. As per the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture involves severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, intentionally inflicted on a person for confession. “Residents in squatter settlements feel risk of being tortured or mistreated every day,” she said.

Source: The Kathmandu Post/ 03 August 2016