Rights violations going unpunished: ICJ

Kathmandu, November 1

The arrest of absconding murder convict Bal Krishna Dhungel highlights the weaknesses, as well as the promises, for victims seeking accountability through Nepal’s judicial system, said the International Commission of Jurists as it released a report on accountability mechanisms in the country.

The CPN-Maoist Centre leader and former lawmaker was arrested in Kathmandu yesterday. The ICJ’s report ‘Achieving Justice for Gross Human Rights Violations in Nepal’ concludes that impunity for gross human rights violations is one of the major obstacles to the creation of a stable and legitimate democratic government and lies at the heart of the rule of law crisis in Nepal.

The report states that a lack of commitment by Nepal’s political leadership to address past and ongoing human rights violations continues to allow perpetrators to escape justice.

“In the past, the promise to shield perpetrators for human rights violations has been used as a bargaining chip to garner political support and build political alliances,” said Frederick Rawski, director of the ICJ’s Asia Pacific Regional Programme.

“It is imperative that accountability for human rights violations remains a priority for Nepal’s political leadership after parliamentary elections, and that alliances between political parties are not once again used as an excuse to undermine Nepal’s human rights obligations,” added Rawski.

Attempts to thwart justice have also included the cynical manipulation of justice sector actors, from the police to the Attorney General’s office, in a way that threatens the independence and credibility of the institutions responsible for safeguarding human rights, the report highlights.

This pattern of impunity persists despite demands for accountability by civil society and victims’ organisations, as well as the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court.