At a National Conference organized on 4 September by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in collaboration with Advocacy Forum, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) committed his government to establishing a credible and effective transitional justice process and to ensuring that proposed legislation was amended to make it fit for the purpose.
Although Nepal’s 10-year armed internal armed conflict came to an end in 2006, there has been little progress in the past 17 years in holding to account perpetrators of gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, unlawful killings, and torture.
Addressing the event focused on the Sentencing Regime in the Context of Transitional Justice Process in Nepal, the Prime Minister stressed that the “TJ process aims to provide compensation to the victims and hold the perpetrators of serious human rights violations accountable. In doing so, we will be guided by the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), decision of the Supreme Court and relevant international commitments and concerns of victims”.
ICJ Secretary General Santiago Canton, acknowledging the complexities in setting up an effective TJ process, stressed that it was important “that all the relevant sectors of Nepalese society are coming together to discuss the changes needed to guarantee legislation that will adhere to Supreme Court directives as well as international standards.”
A representative of victims’ groups Mr Suman Adhikari (founder Chairperson of Conflict Victims` Common Platform) underscored the frustration the victims and survivors, noting that “without justice to the victims, the peace process will remain elusive. Public commitments of political leaders need to be translated into action as we have been waiting for justice far too long.”
The UN Resident Coordinator for Nepal, Hanna Singer-Hamdy, while commending the achievement made by Nepal in maintaining peace, stressed the importance of addressing the legacies of the past human rights violations. She highlighted the need “to establish TJ process that internalizes the international human rights values and norms.”
The question of sentencing following conviction
Mandira Sharma, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, outlined the need to appropriately address the thorny question of leniency in sentencing:
“In our discussions, the concept of leniency in sentencing has been raised [as] a possible common ground, garnering support from all actors involved in the conflict. The primary objective [is to foster] transparent discussions on the sentencing regime and help to shape our understanding on this issue while crafting a legal framework respecting international law, the constitution, and the decision of the Supreme Court.”
ICJ Commissioner and Former Chief Justice of Nepal, Kalyan Shrestha, stressed the need for a “proper, reasonable, and adequate” sentencing policy as part of the transitional justice process. He commended the Prime Minister for his commitment on revising the proposed law to be in line with Supreme Court jurisprudence.
The inaugural session, moderated by ICJ, National Legal Adviser, Laxmi Pokharel was followed by a panel discussion on the Bill to Amend the TRC Act and Sentencing Regime, facilitated by a human rights lawyer Raj Prasad Chapagai. Panel presentations included the subjects of the legal framework of transitional justice in Nepal (Mandira Sharma, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser); Transitional Justice in Latin America with a focus on Argentina (Santiago Canton, ICJ Secretary General) and Transitional Justice in Latin America with reference to the Colombian experience (Ana Caterina Heyck Puyana, Judge at the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia).
Nepal’s Attorney General, Honorable Dinamani Pokharel explained how Nepali law incorporates leniency in sentencing and affirmed his commitment as government adviser to work for the revision of the TJ law with adherence to the international human rights standards. He concluded that “learning from international practices and jurisprudence, I am confident that we are competent to resolve the concerns on the current TJ bill”.
The inaugural session was attended by more than 200 participants that included former ministers, parliamentarians, ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic community, victims and their families, representative of victim-led organizations, civil society, and the media.
Dr Mandira Sharma, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, t: +9779851048475, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laxmi Pokharel, ICJ Legal Adviser, Nepal , t: +9779851047588, e: email@example.com
Kashiram Dhungana, ICJ Legal Adviser, Nepal, t: +9779851226964, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karuna Parajuli, ICJ Legal Adviser, Nepal, t:+9779808431222, e: email@example.comNewsWeb stories