KATHMANDU, July 18: The Accountability Watch Committee (AWC) has expressed its objections to an amendment bill proposed in the federal parliament that aims to withdraw criminal cases of serious nature that are currently pending in various courts.
The AWC in a statement on Tuesday raised concerns over the potential exemption of individuals from criminal liability under the pretext of bringing political leaders and workers, who have been prosecuted for criminal offenses, into the political mainstream.
The AWC has criticized the government's attempt to pass a law that grants immunity to individuals who have been tried for serious criminal offenses, allowing for the withdrawal of their cases regardless of the court level at which they are being heard. Such a move is considered to be against the Constitution of Nepal, democratic principles, the fundamental tenets of justice, the rule of law, and even international legal standards.
The AWC has maintained that such a decision of the government will make complete disregard of the past precedent and verdict of the apex court. The rights body has claimed that any move of the federal parliament to pass the bill in its current form will restrict the constitutional rights of victims and hinder their access to justice.
The proposed legislation also risks encouraging and institutionalizing impunity, contradicting Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and Articles 20(9) and 21 of the Constitution of Nepal. The principles established by the Constitutional Bench of the apex court including the past precedent will also be violated.
The AWC has urged the government to withdraw the Bill from parliament and make sure that no such provisions are included in the Bill. "The AWC believes that the Bill, currently pending in parliament, contradicts court orders, universal human rights principles, and the judicial and fundamental rights of crime victims as guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal," the statement says.
The AWC has further urged the ruling and opposition party parliamentarians, as well as the government, to refrain from amending the law in a manner that protects perpetrators and perpetuates impunity. "Instead, they should prioritize justice for the victims and the establishment of good governance in the country," the statement reads.