Nepal hasn’t allowed UN rapporteurs on transitional justice to visit countryThe government is afraid their visit will expose it’s failure, say victims and human rights activists.
Despite repeated requests for over a year, the government has not allowed two teams of United Nations rapporteurs under the Human Rights Council to visit Nepal.
In a recent letter to Nepal, five special UN rapporteurs working in the area of transitional justice have reminded officials of the pending requests to allow the special rapporteurs on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence and the working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances to study progress made in the transitional justice process in Nepal.
“We would like to take this opportunity to remind your Excellency’s Government of the pending visit requests from the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence and from the Working Group on
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. We look forward to receiving your invitation to visit the country soon,” reads the letter dated March 16 signed by the special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances; special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and special rapporteur on violence against women.
The five rapporteurs again made a similar request on April 12, 2019, but in vain.
Government officials say they are aware about the requests, but they are not in the position to allow them in anytime soon. “There are over 40 rapporteurs and most of them want to visit Nepal. Only those whom the Nepal government deems necessary, are allowed to come,” a joint-secretary at the prime minister’s office told the Post, on the condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to talk about the matter.
He said the special rapporteur on migrant workers visited Nepal in 2018 while the UN rapporteur on violence against women was allowed in last year. Similarly, one on right to food will be visiting this year and a rapporteur on hunger and poverty might be allowed in 2021. “Every rapporteur wants to meet the foreign minister, secretaries from and other ministers. We cannot manage visits by several rapporteurs in a single year,” he said hinting that the two rapporteur groups on transitional justice will have to wait at least a couple of years to come to Nepal.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which liaises the visit, didn’t want to comment on the matter.
However, human rights lawyers and conflict victims say the government’s failure to make progress in transitional justice is the main reason it does not want rapporteurs to come in.
Govind Bandi, a human rights lawyer, said the government is afraid that its failure will be exposed internationally if it allows rapporteurs to come to Nepal. “The report prepared by the rapporteurs is discussed at the Human Rights Council, and even at the UN General Assembly,” he told the Post. He said the government might be thinking it can dodge tough questions by postponing the visit of the rapporteurs.
Conflict victims say as over a decade has been wasted without resolving issues of transitional justice, the government is afraid that visit by rapporteurs will ramp up pressure to act. “Neither any progress has been made to provide justice to the victims nor has the government prepared a concrete plan to conclude the transitional justice process,” Bhagiram Chaudhary, chairperson of the Conflict Victims Common Platform, told the Post.
He said that successive governments have deceived the victims and every decision on the transitional justice process is being taken opaquely. “The incompetence of the government will come out in international forums if the rapporteurs get to visit Nepal. Not allowing them clearly is aimed at hiding the weaknesses,” he said.
Over 13 years after the Comprehensive Peace Accord, thousands of victims of the conflict are yet to get justice. The transitional justice commissions formed five years ago have done nothing except for collecting complaints. Similarly, the transitional justice Act hasn’t been amended even five years after directives from the Supreme Court to do so to remove provisions related to general amnesty.