The Nepali government must fully implement yesterday’s decision of the Supreme Court rejecting the possibility of amnesties for perpetrators of serious human rights abuses during the country’s civil war, said today the ICJ.
The decision, by a three-person special constitutional bench, composed of Justice Kalyan Shrestha, Justice Baidhya Nath Upadhyay and Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana, struck down the amnesty provision of the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Act 2014 (TRC Act) promulgated last May 2014.
The Court also ruled that only the judiciary, and not the Commissions established by the TRC Act, can determine the criminality of any violations committed in the context of the country’s decade-long conflict.
“Nepal’s Supreme Court has once again firmly reasserted the right of the victims of human rights violations to seek justice,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director. “This bold and principled decision should finally end the cynical attempts by politicians from all Nepal’s major parties, as well as the military, to legislate impunity and shield themselves from accountability.”
The decision distinguished between the jurisdiction of the courts and the criminal justice system, and the non-judicial reconciliation and truth-seeking mechanisms established by the TRC Act.
In the months before the decision, the government had essentially frozen the prosecution of claims already before various courts, and had blocked the filing of First Information Reports (FIRs) by victims trying to lodge new complaints.
“Now, the government must not only remove obstacles to these cases, it must commit itself to prosecuting such claims,” Zarifi added. “The Government must immediately take all necessary steps to implement the court ruling including to ensure criminal investigation of FIRs, and address the concerns raised by the victims on the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance.”
This is the second time that the Nepali Supreme Court has rejected the amnesty scheme introduced by the Nepali government.
On 2 January 2014, the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional the Ordinance on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC Ordinance).
However, the Government effectively ignored the Court order and introduced a slightly modified version of the 2013 Ordinance replicating almost all of the provisions of the TRC Ordinance, including many of its problematic aspects, such as the ‘amnesty’ provision.
“The Government, with the help of the international community, must now dedicate itself to meeting the promise of the political parties to provide justice, truth and reparations to the victims and survivors of the conflict,” said Zarifi. “Only doing so will help end the country’s cycle of impunity.”
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director (Bangkok), t: +66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi(a)icj.orgNewsWeb stories