NEPAL: Transitional justice institutions should not condone amnesty 

On Monday, the three major political parties of Nepal agreed that the bills forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances (CID) would be adopted by the end of November. Unresolved issues related to the bills, such as the provision or not of general amnesty, are to be agreed upon by Wednesday. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) calls upon the political parties to ensure that the bill will put concerns for the victims and their inalienable right to a legal remedy at the heart of the transitional justice institutions.

The AHRC takes serious exception to the possibility that the bills could provide amnesty for serious human rights violations such as rape, enforced disappearances, torture or extrajudicial killings. The prohibition of such human rights violations is non-derogable and no exceptional circumstances can be invoked to justify them or shield the perpetrators from prosecutions. By granting a blanket amnesty to perpetrators of such violations, Nepal would not only breach its international obligations, but also run the risk of destabilizing its peace process by further alienating the people of Nepal and weakening the country’s rule of law. The AHRC therefore calls upon Nepal’s political parties to adopt transitional justice mechanisms respectful of ordinary Nepalis’ aspirations to justice and rule of law, and to ban any kind of amnesty.

The victims and their families have seen justice being continuously delayed for five years now. The argument that human rights violations committed during the conflict fell under the jurisdiction of the TRC and therefore could not be dealt with by the regular criminal justice system, although legally baseless, has denied the victims any possibility to access legal remedies until the formation of the TRC. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should therefore be enacted along internationally accepted human rights norms and standards and pave the way to prosecutions of violations, instead of entrenching the denial of justice that the victims have been facing for half a decade.

The former conflicting parties agreed to form the TRC and CID when they signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought the conflict to an end in 2006. In that fundamental document, both parties also resolutely committed to base the peace process on justice and accountability and further pledged not to condone impunity. Provision of amnesty for perpetrators of grave human rights violations would therefore negate the purpose and rationale of the commissions, preventing them from placing the peace process on the tracks of justice and accountability, as envisioned in the CPA.

During the Universal Periodic Review of Nepal, Nepal pledged to establish the TRC and the CID as promptly as possible. Nepal further assured that they would be established in line with international standards, would be independent from political interference and would not grant amnesty to grave human rights violations. The government of Nepal must now live up to its words and establish the transitional justice institutions accordingly.

The AHRC therefore calls upon Nepal’s political parties to ban amnesty for human rights violations while forming the long-awaited transitional justice institutions. The AHRC urges the international community to call for a similar ban, as well as closely monitor the adoption process of the transitional justice institutions. The adoption of the transitional justice bills should go along with renewed commitments to investigations and prosecutions of all violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. A strong rule of law framework, a vivid democracy and a durable and inclusive peace-process all require accountability, justice and protection of the rights of victims.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-177-2011
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,