Nepal | July 12, 2020

UN concerned about sluggish transitional justice process

Himalayan News Service
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  • UN rapporteurs remind the govt of its international obligations on matters of transitional justice

Kathmandu, April 17

United Nations’ special rapporteurs have written a joint letter to Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali expressing their concerns about the sluggish transitional justice process.

The letter comes at a time when the government’s decision to form a selection committee to recommend office bearers of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappearance has drawn flak from stakeholders for lack of transparency and acting without consulting conflict victims.

The 11-page letter was written on April 12 by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. It reminds the government of its international obligations on matters of transitional justice and processes to be followed to ensure transitional justice.

The TRC and CIEDP had registered 63,000 cases but had not been able to resolve any of them.

“Beyond registering these cases, the commissioners have failed to prove significant progress on other crucial aspects of their mandate, including in relation to truth-telling initiatives,  investigating cases filed before them, study of the nature and pattern of serious human rights violations, the identification of perpetrators of grave violations, including of sexual violence and rape against women and girls, the recommendations on reparations to victims and on institutional reform and vetting,” reads the letter.

The protracted transitional justice processes and delays in establishing measures that should guarantee the right to truth, the delivery of justice and access to reparations to the victims,  not only contradicts international obligations, but also leaves many victims of the conflict and their relatives vulnerable and in despair, they argue.

They were concerned that despite repeated extensions to the two transitional bodies’ tenure the TRC Act was not amended.

The TRC Act that gives the government right to appoint four out of five members of the Recommendation Committee that appoints office bearers of the TRC and CIEDP, insufficiently guarantees impartiality, independence and transparency in the appointment process, special rapporteurs stated.

Special rapporteurs were concerned about provisions of the TRC Act that are inconsistent with international human rights norms, including those granting the TRC and CIEDP mandate to recommend amnesty for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law and to initiate reconciliation processes in the absence of a request by victims.

They urged the government to urgently initiate a process of amending the act in line with international standards concerning its mandate and selection of its members. “Such amendment should follow appropriate consultation with victims and the National Human Rights Commission. We also call on your government to ensure fairness, impartiality and transparency in the appointment of members of the commission,” they wrote.

Concerning the selection of members of the TRC and CIEDP, Special Rapporteurs said both mechanisms should be established through procedures that ensured their independence, impartiality and expertise.

They added that in determining membership to the commission, concerted efforts should be made to ensure adequate representation of women as well as of other appropriate groups whose members had been especially vulnerable to human rights violations.

They asked the government to clarify what it was doing to bring the TRC Act in conformity with international norms, to enhance the effectiveness and implementation of the mandate and functions of the TRC and CIEDP and to ensure effective participation of victims in the design and implementation of the transitional justice process.


A version of this article appears in print on April 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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