New law guarantees right of crime victims to justice

Kathmandu, November 16

The Crime Victim Protection Act, 2018 enacted by the Federal Parliament ensures the right to justice of crime victims in criminal investigation, adjudication of cases, compensation and social rehabilitation.

The first law of this kind came into force upon its publication in the Nepal Gazette on September 18. The act also aims to minimise the adverse impacts of crimes on victims. “Any victim shall have right to enjoy decent, fair and dignified behaviour during the criminal justice process. He/she shall not be discriminated on the basis of his/her religion, colour, gender, caste, ethnicity, origin, language, marital status, age, physical or mental unsoundness, disability and ideology, among others,” the act states.

Similarly, the victims of rape, incestuous rape, human trafficking and molestation shall have right to privacy during criminal investigation, prosecution and court proceedings. “No one shall disclose the identity of such victims in any form whatsoever,” it states. Concerned investigating officer or agency is required to provide medical, psychological, psycho-social and legal counselling; name and address of prosecuting agency; name, address and telephone number of investigating officer; name, age, address and complexion of crime suspect(s) and progress report of investigation and prosecution to the victim if he/she desires so.

The act defines the victim as ‘the concerned victim directly affected by the crime and his/her family’. Even if the investigating officer releases the crime suspect because it is not necessary to continue to keep him/her in the custody, information thereof shall also be provided to the victim.

“However, if the right to information to be enjoyed by the victim is likely to pose threat to life and property of the crime suspect and his/her family, the investigating agency shall not be obliged to provide such information to the victim. In such case, the investigating agency shall furnish the reasons to the victim as to why information could not be provided,” the act states.

The prosecuting agency shall also provide the victim with all information about prosecution against the crime suspect, progress report, a certified copy of charge-sheet filed against him/her and court proceedings. Similarly, the concerned court shall inform the victim whether the crime suspect was sent to jail or not until final verdict; date, venue and time of hearing, jail term if he/she has been sentenced; name and address of prison where he/she is doing time; and other decisions of the court.

The victim and his/her family shall have right to be safe from potential attack and threat of crime suspects, perpetrators, defendants and their witnesses. “The victim may also hire separate lawyer during the criminal justice process if he/she desires so,” the law adds. As per the act, the victim shall enjoy compensation, including medical treatment and payment made to lawyer, on the basis of harm cased to him/her. The compensation shall be borne by the perpetrator(s).

The act has also made a provision of a six-member Victim Protection Recommendation Committee led by the attorney general to recommend to the government protection of interests and rights of crime victims.