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UN hails ruling against clemency for grave abuses

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: The United Nations has welcomed a recent Supreme Court verdict that opposed amnesties in cases of serious human rights violations that occurred during the decade-long Maoist conflict. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement that the January 2 ruling to block amnesties in grave rights abuse cases is the first step towards ensuring that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not be used to avoid or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related cases.

The UN country office in Nepal today disseminated the statement, which the Geneva-based OHCHR Headquarters had issued on Saturday.

Last March, the government had passed an ordinance to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations that occurred during the Maoist insurgency. The conflict that started in March, 1996 ended in November, 2006, leaving behind 13,000 people dead and 1,300 missing.

The ordinance had sought to provide the commission with the power to grant amnesties for serious human rights violations. In response to initiatives from victims’ groups and human rights activists, the Supreme Court had ruled on Thursday that provisions of the ordinance concerning amnesties, limitations on criminal prosecution and a 35-day limit for filing cases are against fundamental rights that the Constitution of Nepal, the national justice system and international law have guaranteed. The court ordered that the TRC should meet international standards, including with regard to guarantees of autonomy and impartiality, and ensure the involvement and protection of victims and witnesses.

It ordered establishment of a separate commission to look into cases of disappeared people. “I now call on the Government of Nepal to urgently implement this important decision, in the spirit of working towards genuine and lasting peace, and to respect the demand of the Nepali people for justice,” Pillay said. She pointed that further work is needed to reinforce criminal justice in Nepal to deal with many serious rights violations, including torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances.

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