Dahal government under fire over decision on withdraw criminal cases

Published On: May 20, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, May 20: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's government has come under severe criticism on Friday over its decision taken a day ago to withdraw cases against individuals who were allegedly involved in lynching of eight on-duty security officials in Kailali in 2015. Political parties and human rights watchdogs have questioned the government's commitment to the rule of law. 

The government on Thursday also decided to withdraw all criminal cases filed against protesters allegedly involved in the deadly incidents of violence during the five-month long Madhes movement.

Though Madhesi and Tharu parties welcomed the decision, several other parties including the main opposition UML have taken strong exception to it. UML has said that the decision is against 'the rule of law, various orders and directives issued by the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission in the past and internationally accepted norms and principles of human rights'.  In a statement issued on Friday, UML Secretary Pradip Gyawali said that the decision would encourage culture of impunity and lawlessness.  

“This decision would dampen the spirit of the security forces who carry out their duties faithfully while it encourages the supporters of violence,” Gyawali said in the statement. Other parties including Rastriya Prajantra Party also joined the UML to denounce the decision. 

In a separate statement issued on Friday, the NHRC has described the decision as unfortunate. The commission has maintained that the cases should be properly investigated first before taking any further decision. 

“Withdrawing cases without investigating into the killings of eight security personnel and a toddler and the loss of public property incurred in vandalism during curfew hours would feed the culture of impunity,” NHRC spokesperson Mohana Ansari has said in the statement. The commission has also asked the government to follow the recommendation it made on March 7, 2017.   

The decision, which came just three weeks ahead of the second phase of local elections on June 14, was welcomed by the agitating Madhesi and Tharu parties. 

More than 300 Madhesi and Tharuhat/Tharuwan protesters had faced charges of inciting deadly violence in various tarai districts. 

Madhes-based parties including Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar-led Nepal Loktantrik Forum and Upendra Yadav-led Federal Socialist Party Nepal have long been demanding unconditional release of their cadres' currently in prison and withdrawal of criminal charges against others. They claim that the cases were politically motivated. 

“These cases should not be treated like other cases because the violence took place during political struggle. The charges against the protesters are politically motivated and should be dropped without further delay,” RJPN Vice Chair Laxman Lal Karna told Republica on Thursday.

The decision comes in the backdrop of renewed pressure from the agitating Madhesi parties which have made “unconditional withdrawal of criminal cases” one of the many preconditions to take part in the local elections. 

Though the government had expressed commitment to withdraw the criminal charges 10 months ago, the process was stalled due to sub-judice nature of the case. In numerous instances in the past, the Supreme Court had quashed the government decision to withdraw criminal charges.  

There was equally strong objection from Nepal Police against withdrawal of the cases. Nepal Police has categorically objected to the withdrawing of the charges against people arrested in connection to the lynching of eight police personnel and a toddler in Kailali in August 2015 and similar lynching of an injured Armed Police Force constable in Jaleshwar in September, 2015. More than 70 people have been charged in connection to the Kailali incident.

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