KATHMANDU: The United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva on Monday released the "Nepal Conflict Report", notwithstanding the request from the Nepal government to withhold it.
The 233-page report is an analysis of conflict-related violations of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL), focusing mainly on five particular categories of violation -- unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and sexual violence--during the decade-long Maoist conflict in the country.
It has given details of 41 specific emblematic cases drawn from the database, and suggested that several such cases might amount to war crimes.
"The Nepal Conflict Report documents and analyses the major categories of conflict-related violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that took place in Nepal from February 1996 to 21 November 2006," the OHCHR said.
In her introduction to the Report, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said the report and the huge accompanying database, known as the Transitional Justice Reference Archive, are “intended to be a helpful contribution to the pressing task of ensuring justice for serious violations committed during the conflict.”
She noted that in 2006, when the Nepal government and then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, they committed to “establishing the truth about the conduct of the conflict and ensuring that the victims… receive both justice and reparations.”
“Six years later,” she added, “the transitional justice mechanisms promised in the peace accords have still not been established, and successive governments have withdrawn cases that were before the courts. Perpetrators of serious violations on both sides have not been held accountable, in some cases have been promoted, and may now even be offered an amnesty.”
Official records as of May 2006 suggest that as many as 13246 people were killed during the decade-long insurgency, while an unknown number of people disappeared and thousands were affected.
According to the report, which contains data illustrating the temporal and geographical spread of the violations committed by both sides during the increasingly brutal ten-year conflict, at least 13,000 people were killed, with a further 1,300 still missing. It notes that the final death toll is likely to have been higher, with the government figures now citing 17,000 killed.
“Unlawful killings occurred throughout the conflict in multiple contexts: for example, during Maoist attacks on Security Force posts and bases, Government buildings, national banks and public service installations; in chance encounters and during ambushes, such as in the Madi bus bombing. Other examples were recorded during search operations by the Security Forces made in response to earlier Maoist attacks and in the way that the local People’s Liberation Army [military wing of the Maoists] and political cadres abducted, abused, tortured and killed suspected spies and informants.”
“Unlawful killings were also perpetrated against enemy combatants and civilians who were in detention or otherwise under the control of the adversary, for example, in execution-style killings,” the report says, adding that one of the most compelling cases occurred at Doramba in central Nepal, where 17 Maoists and two civilians were allegedly taken by the Royal Nepal Army (RNA), marched to a hillside, lined up and summarily executed. “The Maoists also killed captives,” the report continues, “for example, three teachers, Muktinath Adhikari, Kedar Ghimire and Arjun Ghimire, were each allegedly executed after abduction in separate incidents in Lamjung District in 2002.”
By contributing to the documentation and compilation of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in Nepal during the conflict, the OHCHR said, the Report aims to assist the people of Nepal to realise a transitional justice strategy, to combat the prevailing impunity and to enable the conflict’s many victims to obtain justice.
According to the OHCHR, the cases and data in the Nepal Conflict Report are derived from the Transitional Justice Reference Archive (TJRA), a database of approximately 30,000 documents and cases relevant to the armed conflict.
The documents contained in this database were compiled from a wide range of credible sources including national and international NGOs as well as OHCHR-Nepal’s own reporting over the last six years, the OHCHR said while releasing the report today.
“During the many years I worked for justice and the realisation of human rights around the world, I have seen that both the failure to combat impunity and the denial of justice only served to encourage further serious violations. I therefore offer this Report and the accompanying TJRA to the Government and people of Nepal, to assist them in their essential endeavour of building a sustainable foundation for peace and recovery from Nepal’s violent and tragic conflict,” Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.
Arguing that the peace process was on the verge of conclusion and the report on rights violation during the conflict period would tarnish Nepal's image in the international arena, the government through diplomatic channel had requested the OHCHR not to publish the report, which has 11 chapters.
"None prosecuted in conflict-related crime"
In Chapter 10: Accountability and the Right to an Effective Remedy, the report said that up to 9,000 serious violations of IHRL or IHL may have been committed during the decade-long conflict. "However, at the time of writing this report, no one in Nepal has been prosecuted in a civilian court for a serious conflict-related crime. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that there has been a systematic failure on the part of responsible authorities to bring individuals to justice, and that this lack of accountability served to perpetuate the commission of additional abuses during the conflict. Accountability therefore remains a matter of fundamental importance to Nepal as it deals with its legacy of conflict."
The final chapter includes a comprehensive range of recommendations addressed to all major stakeholders in the Nepali transitional justice process.
"The recommendations are based on the primary findings of the Report and highlight the key areas that require attention to ensure that all violations of human rights and IHL are properly addressed," its summary reads.
"In addition to addressing the Government and its Ministries and the future transitional justice mechanisms, recommendations are also made to the Security Forces, the Maoist leadership, political parties, the NHRC, civil society and the international community. Finally, the victims themselves are encouraged to support the prosecution of emblematic cases involving those responsible for the worst offences, and to seek reparation which they are entitled to receive under international law," its summary reads.