Court rescinds amnesty clauseThe Supreme Court has annulled the amnesty provision of the transitional justice Act, saying that it is against the established principles of justice.
Responding to the appeal filed by 234 conflict victims in June 2014, the SC on Thursday issued the verdict, curtailing the discretionary powers of the commissions on Enquiry into Truth and Reconciliation and Enforced Disappearances to grant amnesty, and ending fears that perpetrators would get acquitted without trial.
Earlier, the commissions could recommend amnesty to perpetrators if deemed reasonable for it, except in cases of rape and grave rights violations. On less serious crimes where amnesty is permissible, the court has made it mandatory to take consent of the victims.
Thursday’s decision has barred the commissions from initiating reconciliation on their own without victims’ consent. The SC said cases sub judice in court cannot be dealt by the commissions as they fall under the purview of the court. Besides, the attorney general has been given the final say on whether to prosecute the cases on the basis of the recommendation of the commissions.
“The ruling constitutes an important step forward in the debate surrounding the four pillars of transitional justice—truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition,” said Govinda Bandi, a human rights lawyer. “This verdict opens window for justice for the victims.” He added that the apex court’s ruling has allowed the commissions to move forward and work without compromising with the political leadership.
The SC has also directed the commissions to work on the basis of the previous court verdicts while dealing with the cases of rights violation.
“This has laid down a foundation for victim-centric transitional justice process, which is a crucial part of the peace process,” said advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla.
Victims, however, are not completely assured of justice yet. “The problem lies in the implementation,” said Suman Adhikari, chairperson of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform.