Kathmandu, Nepal (BBN)- The United Nations has commended Nepalese authorities for leading an exhumation of a suspected burial site of five students who were allegedly the victims of enforced disappearance during the country’s armed conflict, saying it will help to ensure justice for rights violations.

“This exhumation is a vital step forward to advance transitional justice and accountability on a key emblematic case of human rights violation related to the conflict,” Jyoti Sanghera, Acting Head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal), said in a press statement.

OHCHR has consistently called on the government and the Maoists to tackle human rights issues and ensure accountability for abuses committed during the decade-long civil war, which claimed some 13,000 lives before coming to an end with the signing of a peace accord in 2006.

Ms. Sanghera said that by acting upon the request of families of the disappeared, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has “respected the victims’ right to truth and strengthened their hope for realizing their right to justice.”

An exhumation team under the leadership of the NHRC experts and consisting of the Nepal Police, national and international forensic experts, with the support from OHCHR, have found human remains of four persons at the burial site in Dhanusha.

The exhumation was temporarily stopped on Saturday and will be resumed at a later stage to search for the remains of the fifth person that allegedly disappeared.

The OHCHR noted that human remains found are extremely useful for experts to conduct a DNA analysis to determine the identity of the persons buried and to eventually help clarify these cases of enforced disappearances.

The Supreme Court ordered the Nepal Police to register a First Information Report (FIR) and to proceed with an investigation into the Dhanusha disappearances back in February 2009. The exhumation marks the first real progress in the implementation of this decision.

The OHCHR has monitored and reported on human rights and provided training and technical assistance to state institutions and civil society since it was established in Nepal in 2005. The 2006 peace agreement also requests OHCHR to monitor the human rights provisions of the pact.

BBN/SI/AD-21Sept10-10:30 am (BST)