Nepal: experts affirm the need for reform of Transitional Justice legislation to ensure the right to an effective remedy to all victims and survivors, particularly women
The ICJ launched a new briefing paper Nepal: Transitional Justice Mechanisms with Gender Perspective in a webinar held on 12 May 2021.
The discussion included the need to give practical effect to Nepal’s obligation under international law to ensure the right to an effective remedy to the victims, including women victims of sexual and gender-based violence during the country’s internal armed conflict (1996 – 2006). Participants focused in particular on the need to ensure that gender issues are incorporated in the transitional justice mechanism.
The Honourable Kalyan Shrestha, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal and ICJ Commissioner, stressed the importance of the role of the Supreme Court of Nepal in establishing landmark jurisprudence on transitional justice.
Justice Shrestha explained how despite the fact that the country had established a progressive Constitution and amended legislation to provide for equality, non-discrimination and access to justice, women victims and survivors of a decade long armed conflict continued to face real barriers to justice. These including short periods of statute of limitations preventing the filing rape and sexual violations cases and lack of support mechanisms for women, which compounded existing economic pressure and social obstacles.
Bandana Rana, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), addressed the situation of sexual and gender – based violence against women in Nepal during the armed conflict. She said that Nepal was bound by clear international legal obligations, including under the CEDAW and other treaties. Yet the Nepali government has not taken effective measures to ensure access to justice and the right to an effective remedy to the victims of SGBV during the conflict.
Laxmi Pokharel, ICJ Legal Adviser, summarized the ICJ’s briefing paper on “Nepal: Transitional Justice Mechanisms with Gender Perspective”. The Paper’s major recommendations, to the Government of Nepal, are:
- Amend the Truth and Reconciliation Act (TRC) in line with the Supreme Court’s order and Nepal’s international obligations;
- Ensure participatory, consultative processes while amending the TRC Act;
- Ensure the participation of women at all levels of recruitment, including in the formation of the recommendation committee, in the appointment of Commissioners of both the TRC and the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons (COID) and at all levels of staffing with a view to ultimately achieving gender parity;
- Provide gender-sensitive trainings to the Commissioners and staff of the Commissions in order to enhance their capacity to address gender issues in their operation;
- Take all necessary steps to amend the Criminal Code to remove the statutory limitation for filing incidents of rape and other sexual violence, including in relation to acts committed during the armed conflict, in order to ensure justice for all victims;
- Ensure that amnesties and mediation are not used to replace criminal responsibility for gross violations of human rights, including rape and other sexual violence.
- Incorporate a gender-responsive approach in all aspects of the Commissions’ work, including in the interpretation and application of the mandate of the Commissions, prosecution of perpetrators and reparation to the victims and survivors;
- Incorporate an approach in the Commissions’ work that does not restrict women’s experiences during the armed conflict only to bodily harm suffered, but also takes account of structural gender biases and its consequences during the period of a conflict;
- Design and implement gender-friendly procedures for investigation, including statement taking, victim and witness protection and other activities of the Commissions;
- Design and implement specific reparation policies to address the unique needs of women victims;
- Ensure that the gendered aspects of the armed conflict, including its causes and consequences are incorporated in the final report of the Commissions;
- Take effective measures to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the final report of the Commissions in order to ensure that the wider population is made aware of the truth, most especially in relation to women.
The webinar was jointly organized by ICJ in collaboration with the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UN Women. This event was organized under the ‘Enhancing Access to Justice for Women in Asia and the Pacific’ project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Due to the COVID – 19 pandemic the webinar was conducted virtually and live broadcasted on Facebook. It was conducted in English language and simultaneous translation in Nepali language was also available.
Laxmi Pokharel, ICJ Legal Adviser – Nepal, email: laxmi.pokharel(a)icj.org
Briefing paper on “Nepal: Transitional Justice Mechanisms with Gender Perspective” (full report in PDF)AdvocacyNewsPublications