Search for truth and justice continues in Nepal: ICJTuesday’s arrest of Balkrishna Dhungel highlights the weaknesses, as well as promises, for conflict victims seeking accountability through Nepal’s judicial system, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said on Wednesday, a day after the Maoist leader was picked up from Satdobato and sent to jail.
Tuesday’s arrest of Balkrishna Dhungel highlights the weaknesses, as well as promises, for conflict victims seeking accountability through Nepal’s judicial system, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said on Wednesday, a day after the Maoist leader was picked up from Satdobato and sent to jail.
The Supreme Court on Jan 3, 2010 had sentenced Dhungel to life in prison for murdering Ujjan Kumar Shrestha of Okhaldhunga on May 10, 2004.
But despite the apex court conviction, Dhungel was walking free, largely due to the political patronage he enjoyed.
In its report “Achieving Justice for Gross Human Rights Violations in Nepal”, the ICJ has concluded that impunity for gross human rights violations is one of the major obstacles to the creation of a stable and legitimate democratic government and lies at the heart of the rule of law crisis in Nepal.
The international human rights watchdog has also pointed to a lack of commitment by Nepal’s political leadership to address past and ongoing human rights violations, which it said continues to allow perpetrators to escape justice and undermines victims’ right to effective remedies and reparation.
“In the past, the promise to shield perpetrators of human rights violations has been used as a bargaining chip to garner political support and build political alliances,” said Frederick Rawski, director of the ICJ’s Asia Pacific Regional Programme. “It is imperative that accountability for human rights violations remains a priority for Nepal’s political leadership after parliamentary elections, and that alliances between political parties are not once again used as an excuse to undermine Nepal’s human rights obligations,” added Rawski.
Nepal is holding its parliamentary and provincial elections in two phases on November 26 and December 7.
The ICJ report has concluded that gross human rights violations in Nepal are not a thing of the past, but are ongoing.
Political expediency has trumped calls for justice and accountability and the government continues to use state machinery to shield perpetrators rather than serve the interests of justice, says the report.
“In a seemingly perpetual cycle, the weak rule of law in the country contributes to impunity for human rights violations, and this culture of impunity further erodes the rule of law,” said Rawski. “The search for truth and justice in Nepal will not be realized unless this cycle is ended,” he added.
The ICJ says it has found that the mandate and operation of transitional justice mechanisms fall short of international standards despite the repeated reinforcement of such standards by the Supreme Court.
Though ostensibly formed to provide a measure of public accountability, the practice of forming ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate rights violations has promoted impunity by diverting investigations from the criminal justice process—where they belong—into parallel mechanisms that are established by means that make them vulnerable to political interference and manipulation.
“Notably in the Tarai region, the state has responded to the Madhes movement with excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings, and torture and other ill-treatment,” said the report.