‘Stop stalling’ transitional justice: global human rights bodies

Subhas Rai

Four global human rights bodies took the unusual step Monday of issuing a joint statement condemning the Nepal Government’s inaction on rights violations committed during the decade-long armed conflict, which has denied justice to victims.

"The failure of the government to deliver on its commitment to ensure truth, justice, and reparations for the victims of conflict-era abuses shows a dismaying disregard for the protection of human rights,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), in the press release.

HRW, TRIAL International, the International Commission of Jurists and Amnesty International called on the government to: 1) suspend the current process of naming commissioners to Nepal’s two transitional justice commissions, and initiate a consultative and transparent process for the nomination and appointment of commissioners; 2) follow through on commitments to amend the 2014 transitional justice law to ensure that the legal framework is consistent with international human rights standards and Supreme Court rulings; and 3) adopt and publicise a plan for taking the transitional justice process forward.

Read also: The struggle for Transitional Justice, Hari Phuyal

The terms of the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were extended in February 2019 but to date the new commissioners have not been named, as political parties are reportedly fighting over the influential roles.

“The legitimacy of Nepal’s transitional justice process lies both in a transparent and consultative appointment process for commissioners, and a strong legal foundation to allow the commissions to fulfil their mandate,” said Helena Rodríguez-Bronchú, head of TRIAL International’s Nepal program, in the press release.

Read also: 12 years later, justice is a mirage, Sewa Bhattarai

After being elected in 2018, Prime Minister KP Oli renewed promises that the legal framework governing transitional justice would be brought into conformity with Nepal’s international human rights law obligations, as the Supreme Court had repeatedly directed. In April 2019, United Nations experts wrote a joint letter to Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali reminding him of that commitment and calling for a transparent process for appointing new commissioners.

“The lack of progress in holding perpetrators accountable for the suffering inflicted upon victims, their families and Nepali society as a whole, is appalling,” said ICJ Asia-Pacific Director Frederick Rawski. “Nearly 13 years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, political leaders inside and outside of government are still playing games by politicizing the process. It is about time that they showed some courage, and took action to ensure access to justice, instead of continually looking after their own short-term self-interests.”

Read also: Justice in transition, David Seddon

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