Advocacy Forum-Nepal, which has been providing legal assistance to the victims of human rights violations since its establishment, had offered to take the case of two victims of tortures involving Colonel Lama to the UK. Republica caught up with Chairperson of Advocacy Forum Mandira Sharma to learn about the case in detail. Excerpts:
How did this case reach the UK?
As you know, we have been providing legal assistance to the victims of human rights violations right since the Maoist conflict, we have been also been providing legal assistance in this particular case since 2005.
While the government and political parties have termed the arrest of Colonel Lama a breach of sovereign jurisdiction, human rights community has welcomed it.
First of all, we need to understand that the concept of human rights is universal. Nepal has been a party to several human rights instruments and treaties and has accepted in principle that any government in the world can punish those guilty of serious human rights violations. As a party to the UN Convention against Torture, any victim of torture in Nepal can appeal in another country, which is also a party to this convention, for legal treatment if the victim is denied justice in his home country. In such a case, the country concerned has to either prosecute or extradite the perpetrator of torture if found in its soil. Colonel Lama´s case is similar.
Political parties have said that the move of UK government could derail the ongoing peace process. What do you say on this?
This is a deliberate attempt to spread rumor. Where in the world has peace process derailed just because victims of conflicts are provided justice? The issues of providing justice to conflict victims, ending impunity, strengthening the rule of law and establishing transitional justice mechanisms are components of the peace process. But the government has not carried out investigation into any of these incidents of human rights violations that took place during the Maoist conflict.
Not even a single perpetrator of serious human rights violation has been booked even six years after the start of the peace process. Instead, the government has been repealing cases and giving protection to convicted criminals. The government has grossly ignored the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission and other international human rights organizations. This situation has forced victims to look for alternative ways to seek justice. This will never derail the peace process, but will help strengthen it.
Don´t you think that those found guilty in such cases can be prosecuted in Nepal itself?
So far, this has not happened. Nepal should learn a lesson from this incident. There are thousands of similar cases. Nepal government has to immediately start the process of prosecuting those found guilty of serious human rights violations. But the proposed draft ordinance on Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has reached the President´s Office, is faulty. Since this is not compatible with international standards, such TRC should not be formed. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai himself had hijacked the TRC bills that were drafted by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction.
The two separate bills on TRC proposed by the ministry were withdrawn and the prime minister had introduced faulty ordinances, which propose general amnesty even to those involved in serious human rights violations.