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UNHCHR finds fault in TRC ordinance

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

KATHMANDU: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has urged the government to rectify truth and reconciliation ordinance that authorises Truth and Reconciliation Commission to grant amnesty, contravening international standards.

Issuing a press statement, she regretted the passing of the ordinance to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with authority to recommend amnesty to serious human rights violators. “Such amnesties would not only violate core principles under international law but would also weaken the foundation for a genuine and lasting peace in Nepal,” Pillay stated. The UN’s rights body made its stance clear against the decision of the government to set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission through an ordinance last week.

“An amnesty for those who committed serious human rights violations will deny the right of thousands of Nepalis to truth and justice. This will not provide a sustainable road to peace,” Pillay stated.

“I am particularly disturbed that the text of the ordinance was developed and passed in such a secretive manner, without consultations with civil society, victims, families of the victims or even the national human rights institutions,” the High Commissioner said. “Past experiences elsewhere in the world have shown that without the active involvement and support of these key affected groups, mechanisms of this type may lead to further divisions and disagreements, producing the opposite result to that intended.”

Regretting that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will also have the power to conduct reconciliation processes without the consent of the parties involved, the High Commissioner stated, “You cannot, and should not, force people to reconcile. Reconciliation, by its nature is a voluntary act.” She also reminded that in October 2012, the High Commissioner released the Nepal Conflict Report, a landmark report documenting and analysing around 9,000 serious violations of international law that occurred during the 10-year conflict, some of which may amount to war crimes.

“I am also concerned that the ordinance may be used to avoid or delay criminal investigations and prosecution of conflict-related cases. Criminal justice should be reinforced, not replaced by other transitional justice processes such as truth and reconciliation commissions,” Pillay added.

The High Commissioner also noted with concern that many serious violations, such as torture and enforced disappearance, are not adequately criminalised in Nepali law.

“As recommended by its own Supreme Court, Nepal should address these gaps in its criminal law, and underpin this by ratifying the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” Pillay she added.

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