An Oral Statement to the 21st Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status
Thank you Madam President,
Mr. de Greiff, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) warmly welcomes you and congratulates you on your appointment as Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. We welcome your first report to the Council, in particular the emphasis you place on adopting a comprehensive approach to addressing gross violations of human rights. We support the statement that reconciliation cannot be an alternative to justice, and share your concern with regard to the tendency of some States to trade off one measure against others.
As an organization that works to assist victims and human rights defenders across Asia to seek justice and remedies, to challenge impunity and to strengthen national institutions and justice-delivery mechanisms, we welcome in particular your position concerning the need for the strengthening of the rule of law and for building the trustworthiness of national institutions. The participation of individuals and civil society in ensuring accountability and law-making are essential.
The ALRC’s work on the rule of law and reforms to State institutions makes it apparent that there are a significant number of countries in the Asian region that could benefit from cooperation with your mandate. However, we believe that it is most urgent for your mandate to engage with the Government of Nepal, and we note with appreciation your request for a country visit. We urge the Government of Nepal to show its commitment to cooperation with the Human Rights Council and to effective transitional justice, by enabling this visit to take place without delay.
The ALRC recalls the statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday September 10, 2012, that was of great relevance to your mandate, as it highlighted concerns about the proposed ordinance in Nepal granting broad amnesty powers to the future transitional justice mechanism, including for those who might have committed gross human rights violations, in breach of international law and Nepal’s international human rights obligations.
Mr. de Greiff, we urge you to take up this issue with the Government of Nepal, recalling that a transitional justice mechanism – regardless of the legal process through which it is adopted – needs to be in line with international standards, and therefore cannot directly or indirectly provide amnesty for serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture, rape and abductions. We also take this opportunity to call on States to commit to refusing to fund any mechanisms that fall short of this benchmark.
Importantly, while the political stalemate and legal and constitutional vacuum prevailing in Nepal may lead to a delay in the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, nothing prevents the State from proceeding with criminal investigations and prosecutions in cases that have been pending for a long time. In particular, court orders that have already been made, calling for the government to investigate and prosecute specific cases, need to be respected, not ignored. It is imperative that delays to the establishment of such mechanisms are not used to justify the undermining of the rule of law and the process of justice delivery. Nepal has repeatedly pledged that it will address impunity, including during the January 2011 Universal Periodic Review. It is high time that demonstrable evidence of this commitment is shown.
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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.