"In the past bringing those responsable to justice was not part of the discussion at all but with the arrest of the Nepali officer in UK a sense of fear was injected and that was a huge achievement" Mandira Sharma
Lawyer and human rights defender Mandira Sharma co-founded Advocacy Forum in 2001, Nepal’s trail blazing organisation of human rights lawyers. Mandira grew up in a remote area in western Nepal and, encouraged by her mother, became the first woman in her village to become a lawyer. She studied in Kathmandu and gained a scholarship to do her L.L.M. (Master of Law) at the University of Essex.
Nepal’s civil war, which stretched from 1996 to 2006, resulted in thousands of cases of torture, killings, forced disappearance, sexual violence and other abuses. Both sides - the monarchist (then government) forces and the Maoist rebels – stand accused of grave human rights violations, but not a single perpetrator has been held to account for their crimes. Many remain in high positions in the government and military.
Mandira and her colleagues represent victims and work to achieve justice by bringing their cases to courts in Nepal as well as harnessing media attention and international support to campaign for legal reforms. Their successes have led to them being seen as a threat by those they are trying to bring to justice. They have experienced direct and indirect threats, assaults, and defamation and incitements to violence in the media.
In 2006 Mandira won the Human Rights Watch prestigious Human Rights Defender Award.
"Regardless of the decision not to re-prosecute Mr Lama, the case has already established that the door of universal jurisdiction for the victims of torture and other gross violations is open in the UK and beyond. I just hope the government of Nepal understands the gravity of the issue at hand and starts a process to end impunity for torture and gross violations of human rights in Nepal.”
"This case help addressed the deep rooted problem of impunity and empowered human rights defenders and victims to explore new opportunities" Mandira Sharma
On 3 January 2013, UK authorities arrested Colonel Kumar Lama of the Nepal Army and charged him with two counts of torture under Universal Jurisdiction law. Due to their work relating to the case, Mandira and her collegues were called traitors in the media in Nepal, elements of which also incited violence against them. The District Administration Office also informed Advocacy Forum that there would be an investigation into its activities.
"Torture is not only destroying the person individually is also destroying the justice system" Mandira Sharma
"Torture was disproportionally affecting the poor and marginalized communities so in their eyes the state and law was discriminatory" Mandira Sharma
"Advocacy Forum significantly contributed to create a UN monitoring mission on human rights violations in Nepal which created the right environment for the peaceful political negotiation that end the conflict in the country." Mandira Sharma