Transitional justice, prevention, and the obstacle of impunity: the example of Nepal (UN Statement)

The ICJ today delivered an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council, on transitional justice, prevention and impunity, highlighting the continuing problem of impunity in Nepal.

The statement, which was made during a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, read as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) remains deeply concerned by continuing impunity for gross human rights violations in many parts of the world, which undermines the potential for transitional justice to contribute to prevention as outlined in the Joint Study (A/HRC/37/65).

For example, in Nepal, more than ten years after the civil war, political expediency has trumped calls for justice and accountability. There has been near absolute impunity for those responsible for serious crimes under international law.

Transitional justice mechanisms – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons (CoID) – have fallen short of international standards, both in their constitution and their operation, despite repeated orders by the Supreme Court of Nepal to enforce the standards.

The Commissions’ deeply flawed mandates, among other problems, allow them to recommend amnesties for gross human rights violations. In addition, their non-consultative, uncoordinated and opaque approach to their work has also created distrust with all major stakeholders, including conflict victims and members of civil society.

The Government continues to flout its obligation, both pursuant to the Supreme Court’s orders and under international law, to enact domestic legislation to criminalize serious crimes in accordance with international standards.

As highlighted by in the Joint study, turning a blind eye on past atrocities signals that some perpetrators are above the law, which further discredits State institutions and “breeds a (long-standing) culture of impunity in which atrocities may become ‘normalized’, rendering prevention significantly more difficult.” (para 43)

That, indeed, is the experience in Nepal: continuing impunity for gross human rights violations perpetrated during the conflict is one of the major obstacles to the creation of a stable and legitimate democratic government and lies at the heart of the rule of law crisis in the country. Ending impunity is essential to preventing further violations.”

Video of the statement is available here:


The delegation of Nepal exercised its right to reply later in the day. Its reply is here:



The ICJ oral statement complements a related written statement by the ICJ at the session.

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