International rights groups call for an end to Nepal Supreme Court crisisThe call comes as confrontation is escalating in Nepal’s judiciary amid justices and lawyers’ demand of chief justice’s resignation.
Three international human rights organisations have called for an end to the crisis in Nepal’s Supreme Court, saying it has jeopardised the independence and integrity of the judiciary.
Issuing a joint statement on Friday, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International said that it is essential to resolve the ongoing crisis in a way that maintains and enhances the court’s credibility and independence.
Concerns from the international human rights organisations comes amid Supreme Court justices and the legal fraternity’s ongoing protest against Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana.
They have been demanding Rana’s resignation, saying he is the source of all the ills in the judiciary. For the last three weeks, the justices have not heard any cases, except for habeas corpus petitions.
Since Friday, lawyers have refused to participate in even the habeas corpus hearings.
With Rana refusing to step down, the confrontation in the Supreme Court has escalated further.
Justice delivery has largely been affected with the crisis deepening.
“The Supreme Court has a crucial role in upholding human rights and the rule of law in Nepal, which makes this crisis extremely worrisome for the justice process,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, is quoted as saying in the statement.
The current crisis comes amid increasing calls for judicial reform, according to the statement.
In July, a committee led by Hari Krishna Karki, a Supreme Court justice, submitted a report identifying a number of problems in the judiciary, however, there have been no attempts to implement the recommendations.
"Without judicial integrity and independence, the role of the Supreme Court will be weakened significantly, making it unable to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect human rights and the rule of law,” Mandira Sharma, ICJ senior international legal adviser, is quoted as saying in the statement.
The ICJ-headquartered at Geneva, HRW with its head office in New York and Amnesty, headquartered in London, have demanded a fair investigation into the allegations against Rana.
They have also hinted at the constitutional provision that allows a quarter of the House of Representatives to file an impeachment motion against the chief justice. To file an impeachment motion, political parties needed to make a move. But Nepal’s political parties, both from the ruling and opposition sides, have failed to take initiatives towards impeaching Rana.“An independent judiciary is the foundation of a rule of law-based system and respect for human rights,” Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal, is quoted as saying in the statement. “As envisioned by the constitution, Parliament should ensure a robust, transparent, and effective investigation on the allegations faced by the chief justice to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court and to ensure public trust in the judiciary.”