KATHMANDU, APRIL 23: The International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch have jointly urged the government and political leaders not to grant amnesty for crimes committed during the conflict time.
The call from the two human rights groups for no amnesty for serious human rights abuses of the conflict-era comes at a time when the political parties are engaged in finalizing laws related to transitional justice mechanisms -- the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Disappearances.
“Amnesty for gross human rights abuses - such as torture, including rape, and enforced disappearance - would violate international law,” said Frederick Rawski, country representative at the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a joint statement on Monday. “Amnesty for these crimes would also contradict well-established Nepal Supreme Court jurisprudence and the government´s own public commitments at the UN Human Rights Council.”
The groups contend that giving power to the commissions to grant amnesty will increase the possibility of amnesty being offered in more cases instead of bringing out the truth of what actually happened.
“Victims are entitled to both knowledge of what happened and to effective remedy and reparation, including the prosecution of those responsible,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
They have further said that providing amnesty in the cases involving most serious crimes would violate Nepal´s obligations to prosecute and punish crimes under international law, such as torture and enforced disappearance, and war crimes, such as unlawful killings carried out during the armed conflict.
The rights groups have also expressed concern over the proposed provisions that allows leaders to make appointments to the commissions based on "political consensus". They said such a provision would undermine the independence of the commissions.
“To function effectively, the nomination and appointment process and the operations of the commissions need to be transparent and open to public scrutiny,” said Sifton. “Past experience--in Nepal and throughout the world--has shown over and over again that politicized commissions rarely represent the interests of victims.”