Health rights activist arrested for contempt of court in Nepal

Expression

On 8th January 2018, prominent Nepalese health rights activist and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Govinda KC was arrested for contempt of court after he held a press conference to demand the resignation of the country's Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli. He made the call because of the Chief Justice's decision to reinstate Dr. Sashi Sharma as the Dean of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at Tribhuvan University. Dr Sharma had been removed from his position four years ago after nationwide protests, led by Dr. Govinda KC, questioning his appointment process.

Dr. Govinda KC accused the Chief Justice of being 'corrupt' and undermining the independence of the judiciary. Dr. Govinda KC announced that he would undertake a hunger-strike for the fourteenth time demanding reforms in Nepal’s medical sector.

Peaceful Assembly

In response to the arrest, hundreds of people from various walks of life came out onto the streets to protest against Dr. Govinda KC’s detention. They chanted slogans calling for his immediate release. In a positive move, on 10th January, the Supreme Court ordered his pre-trial release and did not seek bail nor any personal guarantee for his release. Dr. Govinda KC has been ordered to appear before the court for his next hearing scheduled for 20th February.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a statement urged the government of Nepal and the Supreme Court to drop the charges against Dr. Govinda KC for criticising the judiciary.