KATHMANDU, Aug 24: The caretaker government has proposed amnesty to perpetrators of conflict-era serious human rights violations in the draft ordinance on transitional justice mechanisms under consideration in the cabinet.
"The commission will recommend the government to give amnesty to the perpetrators of serious human rights violations if they strongly regret the crime they committed," a highly-placed government source said reading out the provision in the ordinance.
The draft of the ordinance has been kept secret and sources at the Ministry of Law, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and Office of the Prime Minister declined to share the contents of the proposal, to Republica.
The government proposed the amnesty provision in the ordinance despite calls from national and international human rights community not to include such a provision in laws related to transitional justice, saying such a provision does not meet international standards.
"Such a provision violates Nepal´s commitment to international laws. We will not accept such a provision," said human rights lawyer Govinda Bandi.
Though the bills committee of the dissolved Constituent Assembly had discussed two separate bills -- one relating to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances, the government has merged both the bills and prepared a new draft.
Even the bill discussed in the committee had proposed not giving amnesty to perpetrators of serious crimes like crimes against humanity, illegal detentions, sexual violence, and violence against civilians, among others. The provision was in line suggestions from the United Nations, European Union and other national and international human rights organizations.
The 13-page draft proposes forming a committee headed by a former Supreme Court justice to recommend the members for the five-member commission, with minimum of two women members. But the members will be finalized in consensus with political parties.
"This provision does not ensure independence of the commission as the members to be appointed through political consensus will compromise independence and fairness of the commission," said human rights activist Mandira Sharma.
But such a commission is silent on representation of victims though the Supreme Court has already ruled that such commissions on disappearances and truth and reconciliation must ensure representation of victims.
"We will not accept any commission that excludes our representation," said Ek Raj Bhandari, a Maoist leader.
But leaders of the opposition parties, human rights activists and victims say that they are concerned over the government move to introduce such a law through ordinance without holding broader consultations with stakeholders.
"Any law like truth and reconciliation and disappearance should not be enacted through ordinance," said Nepali Congress leader Ramesh Lekhak, who was involved in discussions on TRC bills in the dissolved parliament´s bills committee, "If the ordinances were to be introduced, there should first be political consensus."
Human rights activist Sharma, Bandi and victim´s family´s leader Bhandari said they would neither accept the ordinance nor cooperate with the commission to be formed under it.
The ordinance proposes reparation to the victims and their families. They include free education and health care, vocational training, concession loan, employment and housing, among others.
Likewise, the ordinance, the source said, proposes that victim and perpetrators can opt for reconciliation if the latter duly files an application before the commission for reconciliation. But the perpetrators will have to accept the crimes committed and regret their crimes before victims. Besides the human rights violators will have to pay compensation to the victims. The government will organize a formal program for reconciliation, according to the ordinance.
Sources said the cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday afternoon is likely to forward the draft to the president for approval.