The moment of truthPM Oli has to ensure commitment to transitional justice in legislation
Published at : March 29, 2018
Updated at : March 29, 2018 07:53
In his speech to the international community on Tuesday, Prime Minister KP Oli categorically stated that the transitional justice process in Nepal would not include any amnesties for serious human rights violations. This is a highly positive commitment. This is the first time that a head of government in Nepal has so openly committed to a contentious human rights issue.
Nonetheless, it is too early to hope for positive changes. Fulfilling the prime minister’s promise would mean amending the transitional justice legislation in line with the Supreme Court judgment of 2015. All provisions that allow for amnesties will have to be removed. A number of previous governments have made this commitment. Also, at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), where Nepal is a member, Nepali diplomats have promised that the legislation will be amended.
However, no effort has so far been made to make the necessary amendments. There was hope that the Nepali Congress-led government would take this step earlier this year, when it was working to pass an ordinance on transitional justice. But despite widespread pressure, the ordinance only included a provision to extend the tenure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP).
The left alliance government will now have to move swiftly if it is to convincingly demonstrate its commitment to transitional justice. The Attorney General has recently stated that a draft amendment to the legislation is being prepared. The AG would do well to produce a draft of an amendment and begin widespread consultation on it soon. Furthermore, the AG has said that a special court will be formed to prosecute conflict-era cases. There is a dire need to prepare legislation for the special court. Such legislation had been prepared a few years ago. But the idea was shelved when the Supreme Court rejected a provision that stated that the judgments of the special court would not be subject to appellate review by the Supreme Court. The task for the government is to formulate new legislation that abides by the Supreme Court’s opinion.
Meanwhile, the TRC and the CIEDP would do well to take decisive steps towards investigating the cases that are put before it. Victims have expressed disillusionment with these commissions, since they have failed to make much headway in investigations. Many victims are worried that the complaints they have filed, which reveal the names of perpetrators, will be leaked and that this will invite backlash against them. The commissions, with the support of the government, need to provide strong assurances that such leakages will not occur and that no victim will face backlash for any statement that he or she has made. It has been many years since the peace process ended. If the government is serious about addressing transitional justice, it will have to take steps towards addressing the issue immediately.