How possible is reconciliation in Nepal?
The inclusion of an amnesty provision, which could cover the worst possible crimes, in Nepal’s new Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Ordinance, will make it impossible for thousands of victims of gross human rights violations to obtain justice, a coalition of international human rights organizations said today.
“The new ordinance, passed on March 14, 2013, leaves open the door to amnesties for persons implicated in gross human rights violations and crimes under international law,” said Ben Schonveld, ICJ’s South Asia director in Kathmandu. “Amnesties for serious rights violations are prohibited under international law and betray the victims, who would be denied justice in the name of political expediency.”
At least 13,000 people were killed and over 1,300 subjected to enforced disappearance in Nepal’s decade-long conflict between government forces and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) combatants. The fighting ended with the signing of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, consolidating a series of commitments to human rights.
However, the government has yet to take steps to ensure that those responsible for crimes under international law during the fighting are identified and prosecuted. International and local human rights groups have consistently decried the government’s efforts to side-step promises of justice and accountability, represented most recently by this new ordinance.
The revised ordinance calls for the formation of a high-level commission to investigate serious human rights violations committed during Nepal’s armed conflict from 1996 to 2006. It grants the commission discretion to recommend amnesty for a perpetrator if the grounds for that determination are deemed reasonable. The government then decides whether to grant an amnesty. There is no definition of what is reasonable.
Join the church in Nepal in praying for reconciliation in the face of laws which set barriers against it.