South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, expresses concern over the proposed transitional justice bill placed before Nepal’s parliament.
The bill, presented eight years after the supreme court ordered amendment of the transitional justice law, appears to be a clever attempt to obfuscate matters and provide impunity to perpetrators who committed serious human rights violations during the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006).
The amendment bill does not address the prevailing legal obstacles to the transitional justice process and brazenly goes against international human rights standards as well as the supreme court’s directives of 2015.
Despite continuous calls from victims of conflict, human rights organisations, and assurances given by the minister of law and justice, we are disappointed that a perpetrator-friendly text has been placed before the house. Even though there are some elements in the bill that can be construed as positive, they bear no meaning when the text as a whole provides impunity for excesses committed by former rebels and state security forces during the armed conflict.
Among the many flaws in the bill is a provision that divides extra-judicial killing between extreme and not extreme and it is the same in the case of torture. SAHR believes that this provides a window for those accused of war crimes and actions against international humanitarian law to evade accountability.
The bill also diminishes the role of the courts in several ways, such as setting a limitation of six months within which a case is to be brought to court by the attorney general’s office after receiving files from the transitional justice commissions. The bill also reduces judicial sentencing to human rights excesses.
The bill further allows for impunity by allowing victims to grant amnesty to those guilty of grave human rights abuse. SAHR is worried that this provision can lead to extreme pressure put on victims from perpetrators or even those presently in active politics. SAHR believes that this goes against the practice that amnesty is granted by the state and not individual victims. It is disappointing that successive governments in Kathmandu have failed to provide justice for the victims of Nepal’s armed conflict.
Therefore, SAHR calls upon the government of Nepal and members of parliament to amend the bill to ensure that the flaws in the document are removed. In the absence of such corrections, SAHR believes that the bill must be withdrawn by the government of Nepal.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,
Dr. Roshmi Goswami