Two leading international rights watchdogs, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have urged the Nepali political leaders not to go for provisions to give amnesty to the human rights violators as they prepare to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Issuing a joint statement, rights groups objected to the preparation to give amnesty in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission bill as the negotiations are underway among key Nepali political leaders to grant a broad amnesty in connection with creating transitional justice commissions to address abuses committed during Nepal’s civil war.
“Amnesty for gross human rights abuses – such as torture, including rape, and enforced disappearance – would violate international law,” said Frederick Rawski, country representative at the ICJ.
“Amnesty for these crimes would also contradict well-established Nepal Supreme Court jurisprudence and the government’s own public commitments at the UN Human Rights Council,” he added.
The draft legislation to establish the framework for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, envisaged in the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, is under consideration in the parliament.
The statement noted that the leaders have proposed amendments that would empower the commission to grant amnesty to leaders and members of both government forces and armed groups for acts that would amount to serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law during country’s ten-year civil war.
The parties have also agreed that appointments of members to Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Disappearances will be made based on the vague term “political consensus,” which would appear to allow the appointments to be made politically, undermining the commission’s independence, the rights bodies said.
The ICJ and HRW said that granting amnesty power to the commissions creates the possibility that amnesty would be offered in exchange for the truth of what happened.
“Victims are entitled to both knowledge of what happened and to effective remedy and reparation, including the prosecution of those responsible,” said John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at HRW. nepalnews.com