AG proposes new Special Court to try conflict era cases

Kathmandu, October 17

Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha said his office had prepared draft bills relating to transitional justice, which proposed to establish a new Special Court based on the Sierra Leone model.

Shrestha told THT the draft bills propose two benches at the Special Court one with trial jurisdiction and another with appellate jurisdiction as happened in the conflict-hit African country.

He said in the Sierra Leone tribunal, the bench with trial jurisdiction had three judges, two appointed by the UN Secretary General and the bench with appellate jurisdiction had five judges, three appointed by the UN Secretary General. “This is the UN standard,” Shrestha said.

AG Shrestha said his office had completed draft laws and had sent them to the concerned bodies.

When asked if he had removed provisions relating to crimes against humanity as reported in the media, Shrestha said there would be no amnesty for serious crime, but as far as crime against humanity was concerned, it had been phrased differently in Nepali laws. “Let’s not forget that countries have their own definition of certain crimes,” he said, adding that some countries had abolished death penalty and some had not.

He said the draft of the new transitional justice law wanted to consider seven things: victims of conflict, national laws, supreme court verdicts, comprehensive peace agreement, international human rights and international humanitarian law, national need and principles of transitional justice.

Shrestha said the draft of the transitional justice bills also proposed removal of statute of limitation in all cases including sexual assault and torture that took place during the conflict.

The need of the country, he added, should be considered because it was unique to Nepal when the Maoist rebels were allowed to keep the keys to the locked up arms in the cantonments. “Nowhere in the world are rebels allowed to keep keys to the locked up arms,” he said, adding that definition of crime should also consider national law.

On transfer of cases filed by the victims to the Special Court, Shrestha said, in principle, the state had the power to withdraw government cases without the consent of victims and that was also standard international practice.

The AG gave the example of Nepali Army Colonel Kumar Lama who faced trial in the UK for allegedly torturing two persons during the conflict.

“In one case, the court ruled the government did not have enough evidence to convict Lama. In another, the prosecutors withdrew the case without consent of the victim,” Shrestha argued.

He, however, said there would be no amnesty for serious crimes such as sexual assault, torture, enforced disappearance and killing somebody after taking them under control.

Shrestha said the new draft bills also proposed interim reparation for victims.