South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in Telegraph Nepal :: By Raj Kumar Siwakoti, Advocate Nepal :: 

On 17 July the world celebrates International Justice Day (IJD) to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). International Justice Day is a reminder of the urgency for all States committed to ensure continued support for the Rome Statute’s international justice system. On IJD, FOHRID Human Rights and Democratic Forum urges Nepal to reaffirm its commitment to end the culture of impunity and take necessary steps to ratify / accede to the Rome Statute of ICC.

In July 2006, the House of Representatives of Nepal issued a directive for accession to the Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. Since then, there was little progress toward Nepali accession to the Statute until 11 February 2009 when the then Minister of Foreign Affairs tabled to the Cabinet an agenda item for ratification of the Rome Statute. Cabinet, however, decided that they would discuss it a later stage. In April 2010 the Office of the Prime Minister held a discussion on accession to the Rome Statute. However, Nepal has not acceded to the ICC till now. On this occasion, we recall the eagerness and positive commitments demonstrated by the government, political parties and the then HoR towards the ICC.

IJD is an opportunity for the world community to celebrate the historic advances in ending impunity for the worst crimes in international law. 16 years ago on this date, the Rome Statute was adopted by an overwhelming vote of 120 states. It has entered into force on 1 July 2002. Today, 139 states have signed and 122 countries have ratified/joined the Rome Statute of ICC and the number keeps growing. FOHRID is celebrating this day in solidarity with victims of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.

The directives of the then HoR in 2006 had created a favourable environment for ratification of the Rome Statute. This made the general Nepali people hopeful that Nepal’s commitment towards international criminal justice system would be fulfilled. Due to this encouraging environment, FOHRID forwarded initiative to conduct research and drafting this model bill for domestication of the Rome Statute(see Annex:1). It is unfortunate that Nepal has not ratified the Rome Statute till now. Therefore, FOHRID calls on the government of Nepal to recall the directive resolution passed by the then HoR and ratify to the Rome Statute.

We would like to recall commitments by the major political parties, and the Government for providing guarantee to good governance, ending impunity, establishing democratic norms and values, and governance based on principles of the rule of law expressed through formal documents like the Comprehensive Peace Accord-2006, Interim Constitution-2007 and the Common Minimum Programme of the Interim Government-2007. For effective implementation of such commitments, Nepal’s involvement in the ICC is a must and for which the HoR restored with the mandate of Popular Uprising had unanimously endorsed the resolution. Immediate implementation of that resolution is the way to establish political stance to those commitments.

Addressing problem of impunity is particularly difficult as human rights violators are protected by powerful political interests, especially law enforcement organizations, as well as corrupt political elements in the region. The perpetrators are enjoying immunity and the victims do not have access to justice. Major cause behind inability to address serious crimes under international law is the indifference of the existing legal framework of the Nepal.

De facto impunity takes place when a state fails to prosecute those responsible for human rights violation due to lack of capacity or will power, often for political reasons. De jure impunity, in which law is either too limited or explicitly provides immunity from prosecution extends and strengthens impact of de facto impunity, protecting perpetrators of human rights abuses. Impunity is occurring unabated due to legal and structural hurdles in the way of effective prosecution of the perpetrators involved in the serious crimes under international law. Serious violation of human rights is closely associated with the peace and democratic development in the Nepal. This process cannot advance effectively till we bring the perpetrators of the past to the justice system. Therefore, Nepal need to immediate accede to the Rome Statute to prevent impunity.

Therefore, we urge the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Ministers to coordinate among ministries, to hold discussion in the meeting of the Council of Ministers and to forward the process for accession to the Rome Statute. Along with this, we call on the political parties to prioritise the issue at political level to speed up the accession process. Considering that the parliamentary direction to this effect still remains unrealized, we request the leaders of High Level Political Committee to develop consensus and direct the executive to accede to the Rome Statute of the ICC.