‘Draft bill doesn’t fully adhere to global practices’The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has welcomed the government’s initiative towards amending the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, while calling for making the amendment bill fully consistent with Nepal’s obligations under international law.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has welcomed the government’s initiative towards amending the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, while calling for making the amendment bill fully consistent with Nepal’s obligations under international law.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the UN human rights agency has appreciated a section of the bill detailing elements of the mandate of two transitional justice commissions in the areas of truth-seeking, criminal accountability, reparations and measures of non-repetition as positive steps towards a more holistic approach to the satisfaction of the rights of the victims.
“Establishing separate units with dedicated responsibility in the areas of truth-seeking, inquiry, reparations, investigations of gross violations of human rights, preparation of the final report, and others as required would useful tool to strengthen the capacity of the commissions to deliver results in the different areas of the mandate,” the statement said.
The OHCHR, however, says it has major concerns mainly over the accountability. It is skeptical over the provisions of elimination of imprisonment or its substantial reduction for perpetrators of serious crimes under international law. The UN agency also asks the government to define a time frame for the two commissions to complete their job.
“Given the limited progress achieved until now, it seems very unlikely that this extension will allow for the completion of all preliminary inquiries, detailed investigations, conduction of hearings, formulation of recommendations and preparation and publication of the final report,” the statement reads. “It recommends that the bill provide for a reasonable extension of the mandate of the Commission, for a period that would allow the completion of its functions.”
It has also questioned the provisions on reducing penalty of the perpetrators. The proposed amendment establishes that persons who are found guilty of gross violations of human rights (or “other acts of human rights violations if amnesty is not granted”) will not be sentenced to serve time in prison. The punishment would consist of a fine, exclusion from public office and restriction to travel during three years, and the obligation to carry out community service, also during three years.
A much reduced term of imprisonment would be applicable only if the perpetrator did not disclose the truth about his/her criminal responsibility to the commission.
“In this last case, there seems to be a gap for crimes that are not currently defined by national laws, as it would be unclear what is the term of imprisonment that will be used as reference to establish a reduced sentence,” it says.
Expressing concerns over the provision on the bill that says penalties imposed by military courts will be calculated while sentencing perpetrators, the OHCHR said the jurisdiction of military tribunals should cover only crimes and offenses related to military service. “Human rights violations can never be considered as related to the military service,” it said.