UN human rights releases report on Nepal Conflict, voices concern over pace and extent of justice efforts

Monday, October 08, 2012
Memorial event of a candlelight at the Mandala organise by
the citizens's peace group Himsa Birodh. Photo: RP Humagai 
Washington: The United Nations human rights chief on Monday highlighted her concern over Nepali Government’s failure to create promised transitional justice mechanisms to address past human rights violations in the country.

United Nations’s Human Rights Commission on Monday released a landmark report on breaches of international law committed in the ten years before the 2006 peace deal between the Nepali Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

In the introduction to the ‘Nepal Conflict Report (released report), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, notes that, in signing the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the two sides had committed to “establishing the truth about the conduct of the conflict and ensuring that the victims… receive both justice and reparations.”

Six years later, the steps to deliver justice in the peace accords have still not been established, according to the High Commissioner, “and successive governments have withdrawn cases that were before the courts. Perpetrators of serious violations on both sides have not been held accountable, in some cases have been promoted, and may now even be offered an amnesty.”

In her introduction, Ms. Pillay states she is offering the report and archive “to the Government and people of Nepal, to assist them in their essential task of building a sustainable foundation for peace.”

“The Report is intended to act as an initial compilation of credible allegations of serious violations of international law,” she notes. “The allegations are presented in the context of relevant laws and evidence, to provide the basis for further investigation and prosecution by a Nepali judicial process.”

According to OHCHR, accountability and impunity issues came into sharp focus last week, when it was revealed that the Government of Nepal had decided to promote Colonel Raju Basnet to the rank of Brigadier General – despite repeated reminders from OHCHR, the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal and others, that a battalion under the command of Colonel Basnet was heavily implicated in the alleged arbitrary detention, torture and disappearance of individuals said to have taken place at the Maharajgunj Barracks in 2003-04.

Similar concerns have been expressed about the recent appointment of Kuber Singh Rana as Inspector General of the Nepal Police. OHCHR notes that he has been accused of serious human rights violations during the conflict.

The Nepal Conflict Report states that the conflict in the Himalayan country left 13,000 people dead, while another 1,300 remain missing. It also notes the death toll may have been higher, with Government figures now citing 17,000 killed.

Much of the documentation in the Transitional Justice Reference Archive was collected in the course of work carried out in Nepal by OHCHR, which operated a field office in the country from 2005 to 2012, under a mandate to observe human rights under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. 

The Government of Nepal did not renew OHCHR’s mandate in December 2011 and asked the UN agency to wrap up its operations there. “Accountability therefore remains a matter of fundamental importance to Nepal as it deals with its legacy of conflict,” the agency adds.
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