Nepal | August 12, 2020

Conflict victims lament govt’s apathy in their joint submission

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Various victim groups of Nepal have made a joint submission to the 37th Session of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, drawing its attention to the Government of Nepal’s persistent failure to deliver truth, justice, reparation and institutional reforms.

The groups comprise dozens of non-governmental organisations, including Conflict Victims Common Platform, Conflict Victims National Alliance, Conflict Victim Women National Network, National Network of Disabled Conflict Victims and Conflict Victims Orphans Society. The groups said they came together to express their concerns over the protracted lack of progress in dealing with the conflict-era human rights violations.

“We have been desperately waiting for truth, justice and reparations since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006, that ended the decade-long armed conflict. As reported in the OHCHR’s Nepal Conflict Report-2012, the armed conflict caused the death of about 16,729 persons, displacement of about 78,689 persons and disappearance of about 1,327 people.

We value the third UPR of Nepal as a significant opportunity to inform the world community about the longstanding denial of our rights to effective remedy guaranteed under the international law and our constitution,” read the submission made to the UN body yesterday. According to the groups, the last five years have been distressful for them. In particular, they were frustrated by the pervasive political interference in the appointment of Transitional Justice commissioners, arbitrary functioning of TJ commissions and failure of both TJ commissions to complete investigation of even a single conflict-era case.

The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons registered 3,197 complaints, of which 689 complaints were delisted after the preliminary investigation. As many as 2,507 complaints await for comprehensive investigation. To the disappointment of the victims, CIEDP arbitrarily transferred, without any proper investigation, 414 complaints to the TRC. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission registered 62,950 complaints and claimed that it completed verification of 3,615 complaints. None of the complaints have been addressed.

The TRC even failed to get the interim relief scheme rectified to include victims of conflict-related sexual violence and torture, the groups claimed in the submission.

They said both the TRC and CIEDP lacked credibility and independence as the officials were selected based on political ground regardless of the candidates’ competence, experience and credibility in contravention of the Supreme Court verdict. “Contrary to UN Secretary General Guidance to ensure centrality of victims in the design and implementation of transitional justice processes and mechanisms and repeated call from Special Mandate to guarantee the broad and effective consultation with victims in the process of amendment of the act on the CIEDP and TRC, we often were behaved by the government, TRC and CIEDP as mere service seeker not as stakeholders in the whole process,” the groups lamented.

“During the reporting period, impunity for conflict-era violations has worsened due to the protracted criminalisation of politics and politicization of crime.

Though accurate data is not available, a tentative estimation is that there are more than 200 FIRs concerning the conflict-era crimes pending at various district police offices. Many of the offenders have yet to be booked,” read the submission. The groups warned that Nepal had consistently failed to enact national laws criminalising serious crimes, including enforced disappearance, torture and war crime consistent with international standards. Such a gap of law remains a key barrier to access justice by victims of serious crimes committed during the conflict, mentioned the submission.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 11, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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