The international community is concerned about the transitional justice process

As the government prepares to table the bill to amend the Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2014, a section of Kathmandu-based diplomats have expressed concern over some arrangements during their meetings with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur. Deuba and Chairman of CPN (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

After calling Deuba on Friday, members of the diplomatic community met jointly with Dahal on Saturday and are expected to meet CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli soon, according to diplomatic sources.

UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal Richard Howard and Ambassadors of the United States of America, European Union, Germany, Australia and Switzerland held discussions with the leaders regarding the project Nepalese to amend the law on transitional justice, according to the private secretariat of Dahal. .

Some of the provisions of the Amendment Bill have drawn criticism from victims, human rights activists and members of civil society who say the amendment is designed to exonerate perpetrators of serious human rights violations during the 1996-2006 armed conflict.

According to those familiar with the meetings, the diplomats expressed concern over some of the provisions and urged Deuba and Dahal that certain qualifiers and more explanations are needed for cases of serious human rights violations.

According to Khimlal Devkota, a Maoist leader, while diplomats hailed the nationally led peace process, they also expressed concern over some of the issues including the lack of clarification on serious human rights violations and called upon to respect international standards when concluding transitional justice. treat.

An aide to Prime Minister Deuba said diplomats were of the view that no exemptions should be granted to those involved in serious human rights abuses and that if a victim is unhappy with the prosecution process committed by the Special Court, the victim should be allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The amended bill contains provisions that transitional justice commissions will make recommendations to the attorney general’s office to prosecute cases of serious human rights violations. A special court composed of three high court judges will make decisions in cases of serious human rights violations filed by the Attorney General’s office within six months of the recommendation of the two commissions.

Criminal cases from the decade-long insurgency pending in district and high courts will be transferred to the Special Court.

Any decision of the Special Court will be final without possibility of appeal to the Supreme Court, in accordance with the draft amendment law. Victims and human rights organizations have expressed reservations about the list of non-amnestiable crimes in the bill.

The bill states that “cruel murder” or murder after torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and inhumane or cruel torture committed against unarmed or ordinary people during the insurgency are serious violations of human rights. man and are not subject to amnesty. However, it does not list war crimes and crimes against humanity as serious human rights violations.

The bill opened the door to amnesty for murder by saying that only “cruel murder” will not be amnestyable, thus providing a loophole to define all murders as non-cruel and grant amnesty, according to victims.

Victims of conflict and human rights defenders have long called for the law to be changed in line with the 2015 Supreme Court verdict and international standards.

The transitional justice process in Nepal has been extremely slow as there has been a lack of political will to conclude it as victims have been waiting for justice for 16 years since the end of the armed conflict in 2006.

The international community, including the United Nations, as well as human rights organizations have consistently urged Nepal to complete the process and bring justice to the victims.

Up to 13,000 people died, thousands were displaced and many were forcibly disappeared during the conflict.

After Sher Bahadur Deuba became Prime Minister and the subsequent appointment of Govinda Sharma Bandi as Minister of Justice, the process of amending the law began.

According to Devkota, the diplomats were of the view that the 2015 Supreme Court verdict should be respected and honored.

The Foreign Ministry, however, expressed ignorance about the diplomats’ meetings with Deuba and Dahal.

A senior Foreign Ministry official told the Post that the ministry was unaware of the two meetings and therefore had nothing to share with the media.

Sewa Lamsal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government, through various channels, informed the international community that it was tabling a transitional justice law amendment bill in the House after wider consultation.

“We informed all relevant stakeholders of the consultations that took place prior to the preparation of the Amendment Bill and that the consultation process was broad and the concerns of all parties were taken into consideration,” said Lamsall. “This development has been communicated by the highest political level to the diplomatic community.”

After Bandi became Minister of Justice, he held consultations in the seven provinces and in Kathmandu at the national level in order to win the confidence of all sections before registering the new bill in Parliament.

But victims have staged protests in Kathmandu, expressing concern that the new amendment aims to protect perpetrators and grant them amnesty even in cases of serious human rights violations.

The diplomats’ meetings with Nepal’s political leaders come just ahead of the government’s plan to introduce the Amendment Bill to Parliament.

The government is ready to present the new amendment bill to Parliament on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Justice.

During the diplomats’ meetings with senior Nepalese leaders, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu said in an email response to the Post on Saturday that “as members of the international community in Nepal, we support a process of transparent transitional justice led by Nepalese, aligns with international law and earns public trust to achieve credible justice.

“We are encouraged by the recent developments made by the Government of Nepal and look forward to the end of the long wait for justice for the victims of the era of conflict in Nepal through a process that respects human rights. , the rule of law and facilitates the full transition to a lasting peace,” the embassy added.

The diplomatic community in Kathmandu has always closely followed the transitional justice process in Nepal and has repeatedly pushed the government to deliver justice to victims following international standards.

According to Devkota, visiting ambassadors told Dahal that victims’ grievances should be listed and dealt with accordingly.

“On the issue of qualification and clarification of cases of serious human rights violations, we told them that the working procedure of the law will provide further clarification. They expressed their solidarity with the ongoing truth and reconciliation process and their desire to support the nationally led peace process,” Devkota said.

According to a statement issued by the Dahal secretariat, the visiting delegation of international organizations expressed concern about the cases of serious violations of human rights and victims’ right to seek justice, calling the process of peace from “unique” in nature.

“Dahal expressed his gratitude to the visiting ambassadors for their collective concerns and their best wishes for the peace process that is coming to an end,” the statement said.

“The President told the visiting delegation that serious discussions have taken place at the political level on the sensitivity of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the transitional justice process, the verdict of the Supreme Court, the voices of victims and the concerns expressed by the international community,” the statement said. added. “We hope to move forward – and bring a logical conclusion to – this process by addressing all concerns and grievances.”

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