New York, May 13 (IANS) Nepal’s leading political parties should not bargain away justice for victims of serious human rights abuses as part of an agreement to form a new coalition government, the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said on Friday.
A new agreement between the ruling parties threatens to entrench impunity for those who planned and carried out killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other crimes in Nepal’s civil war, just as the country’s long delayed transitional justice process is finally about to get under way.
On May 5, presumably in a bid to retain the support of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M) for the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) coalition government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, the two ruling coalition partners agreed to a nine-point deal containing provisions that aim to shield perpetrators of abuses in Nepal’s decade-long civil war.
Provision 7, which directs the authorities to withdraw all wartime cases before the courts and to provide amnesty to alleged perpetrators, is particularly problematic.
“This political deal between the ruling parties is extremely damaging to the credibility of an already deeply politicized and flawed transitional justice process in the eyes of Nepal’s victims,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific director at the International Commission of Jurists.
“Moreover, it flies in the face of Nepal’s international human rights obligations and the rulings of its own Supreme Court by trying to wash away the crimes of the conflict by attempting to coopt pending criminal cases and provide blanket amnesty to alleged perpetrators.”
The Supreme Court of Nepal has, in several instances, reaffirmed the principle under international law that amnesties are impermissible for serious international crimes. However, Nepal authorities have consistently ignored the orders from the country’s highest court.
Nepal has an obligation under international law to investigate and, where sufficient evidence exists, prosecute crimes under international law, including torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial executions, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“The political deal by the ruling parties to grant amnesty to those responsible for conflict-era human rights abuses is a callous attempt to disregard Nepal’s international treaty obligations by violating victims’ right to an effective remedy,” said Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch.
“Nepal’s political deal jeopardizes the war victims’ last best hope for justice and accountability,” he added.