Nepal courts vulnerable to threats, bribery, says US report

Kathmandu, March 4

The United States has made a harsh review of Nepal’s judiciary, saying that it was vulnerable to ‘political pressures, bribery, and intimidation’.

While launching its annual global human rights report of the year 2016 in Washington DC yesterday, the US State Department alleged that Nepali authorities did not consistently respect and implement court orders, including Supreme Court decisions, particularly those relating to the conflict-era cases.

“The law provides for an independent judiciary, but courts in Nepal remained vulnerable to political pressure, bribery, and intimidation,” read the Nepal section of the global report.

The report expresses concern about the delay in implementing and providing adequate resources for two transitional justice mechanisms — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons.

The report also underscored that the lack of prosecutions for conflict-era crimes reinforced the need for justice and accountability for human rights and humanitarian law violations during the country’s 10-year Maoist insurgency.

“Local human rights advocates cite a number of legal shortcomings that pose obstacles to a comprehensive and credible transitional justice process in the country,” it said, referring to the failure to criminalise torture or enforced disappearance and the statute of limitations for filing rape cases.

“Additionally, the law does not specifically recognise war crimes or crimes against humanity, though the constitution recognises as law treaties to which the country is a party,” it added.

Meanwhile, the State Department report alleged use of excessive force by security personnel in controlling protests, especially in the Tarai region, and expressed worry about the government’s failure to initiate formal investigations into such instances of excessive force.

Likewise, it also drew attention to poor prison management and detention facilities, as well as police mistreatment of detainees.

Similarly, problems of harassment of media and press self-censorship have also been taken as cases of rights violation that occurred in 2016.