While commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared 2020, the ICJ and 47 other national and international organizations and groups of victims, in Nepal, call on the responsible authorities to undertake immediate steps towards reinvigoration of the transitional justice (TJ) process, adopting a transparent and consultative process.
On this occasion, the victims’ groups and human rights organizations in Nepal commend the patience and resilience shown by the family members of those subjected to enforced disappearance during the 10-year-long internal armed conflict from 1996-2006. They have worked tirelessly advanced the TJ process (Truth, Justice, Reparation and Institutional Reform) in Nepal for more than a decade through their peaceful struggle, despite many difficult hurdles.
In 2015 the Supreme Court found several sections of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act, including the one empowering the commissions to offer amnesty and facilitate mediation/reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, including those involved in gross human rights violations, to be unconstitutional and non compliant with Nepal’s international obligations. More recently, on 26 April 2020 the Court rejected the petitions of the Government to review and revise the 2015 decision.
To date, the Government has not initiated any effort to amend the law as per these decisions. Rather, it has been misusing these Commissions in a manner that has prevented victims from accessing remedies through the regular criminal justice system and has made no efforts to strengthen these Commissions to delivery their mandates effectively. Two years back, Nepal recognized enforced disappearance as a distinct crime for the first time when enacting a new Penal Code. While this step is commendable, these legal provisions have not ensured justice for victims, the police typically refuse to investigate cases from the conflict period,arguing that they come under the jurisdiction of the TJ mechanisms.
Despite civil society’s repeated calls to appoint the Commissioners after amending the TRC Act following wider consultations with victims and civil society, the Government recently appointed Commissioners under the same Act that the SC had deemed flawed five years ago. Moreover, the Government has not addressed the repeated calls and concerns regarding the political interference and lack of transparency in the appointment of the Commissioners and the overall TJ process.
Human rights organizations and many victims groups have lost confidence in and stopped supporting to these Commissions.
The undersigned organizations call upon the Government of Nepal:
- To ensure the Commissions provide for, rather than delay and deny, truth and justice to
- Start fresh consultations to amend its law in compliance international human rights law
and Supreme Court directives, including by removing of amnesty for the perpetrators
- Appoint a new set of commissioners under the revised Act that respects victims basic right
to truth and justice;
- Immediately ensure the social, cultural, economic, psychological and legal support
suffered by the victims and families of enforced disappearance as part of victims’ rights
- Revise the Penal Code to bring it in line with international standards. As a minimum, this
- amending the definition of enforced disappearances to bring it in line with Nepal’s international obligations and the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
- revising the penalty for enforced disappearance in the Penal Code to make it proportionate to the gravity of the crime
- removal of the statute of limitations for enforced disappearance cases
- Ratify International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances Punishment.
Ian Seiderman: ICJ Legal and Policy Director, e: ian.seiderman(a)icj.org
Mandira Sharma: ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, e: mandira.sharma(a)icj.orgAdvocacyWeb stories