Nepal | September 20, 2019

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed

The Himalayan Times

The entire peace process will remain incomplete unless the victims get justice, reparation and fair treatment from the state

The United Nations special rapporteurs, in a joint letter addressed to Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, have raised serious concerns over the slow progress being made in the transitional justice mechanism. Their concerns come at a time when the extended tenure of the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act – TRC Act, 2014 – expired on February 6, and the government recently formed a five-member committee to recommend names for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). Four UN rapporteurs have alleged that both the commissions lack “independence” and “credibility”. Except for registering 63,000 cases of rights violations during the decade-long conflict, which started in 1996, they have said that both the panels have failed to resolve them to the satisfaction of the victims, who are still traumatised by non-execution of transitional justice as per the international norms and the Supreme Court verdict passed in February 2015.

As per the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), reached between the government and the then CPN-Maoist on November 21, 2006, both sides had agreed to resolve the cases of gross human rights violations, committed by both the State and the then Maoists, within six months of the signing of the accord through the formation of a commission. However, it took almost eight years to form the TRC Act, that too, with a limited mandate, largely with the motive of reconciliation and providing leniency to the rights violators, leaving many conflict victims and their relatives vulnerable and in despair. The UN rapporteurs have particularly three concerns: TRC Act must be amended in line with international standards; effective implementation of the mandate of the commissions, and effective participation of the victims in the design and execution of transitional justice.

It is frustrating to see the TRC and CIEDP unable to complete their tasks although their tenure has been extended thrice since 2017, the latest being on February 6, without making any amendment to the TRC Act, except for extending the term of the commissioners. Both the panels largely failed to live up to the expectations as they lacked the legal teeth to take action against the rights violators. While addressing the Human Rights Council on March 26 this year in Geneva, Minister Gyawali had reiterated the government’s unequivocal commitment to amend the law governing the commissions and move forward with the transitional justice process, guided by the CPA, Supreme Court verdict and relevant international commitments. He also made it clear that there would be no “blanket amnesty” in cases of serious human rights violations. Allowing the rights violators to go scot free would only enable a culture of impunity to take root in society. Human rights is also a national issue, which cannot be ignored in the name of reconciliation. The entire peace process will remain incomplete unless the victims get justice, reparation and fair treatment. Every citizen has the right to know what went wrong on the rights front during the conflict that left around 17,000 people dead. Let us hope the government will live up to its promise to give the victims a fair deal.

Declining export

Nepal’s exports to China dropped by a whopping 27.6 per cent in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, which is cause for concern. This has happened largely because Nepal’s primary export items to China – handwoven woolen carpets and pashmina – are unable to compete in the Chinese market. Nepali pashmina, for one, is now being replicated in China. While the decline in exports is sharp, many would be shocked to learn that Nepal’s total exports to the huge market of China was not even worth Rs 2 billion ($ 20 million) during the period under review. Total exports came down from Rs 1.86 during the same period a year ago to Rs 1.35 this year.

With limited items available for export, Nepal’s trade suffers as soon as there is a little competition in the destined market. Surely there must be many things that the Chinese people would like to buy from Nepal. The insignificant exports to China only show that our concerned ministry,  the Trade and Export Promotion Centre and businesspersons have not done anything to explore the market. Nepal must learn to diversify both its products and the markets.


A version of this article appears in print on April 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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