KATHMANDU, Sept 24: The government has been preparing to amend the Commission on Investigation of Enforced Disappearance (CIEDP) and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act, removing crimes against humanity from the heinous crimes category.
Multiple government sources confirmed that the amendment proposal, which is awaiting final endorsement by the Ministry of Law and Justice, has included only four crimes under its heinous crimes section. Sources at the ministry informed that rape, murder after taking hostage, torture and disappearance have been listed under the heinous crimes category in the amendment proposal, with a provision for compulsory prosecution of the perpetrators.
Crimes including murder, abduction and hostage taking, disappearance, causing deformities or disablement, physical or mental torture, rape and sexual violence, looting, seizure, breaking or arson of private and public property, or forceful eviction from house and land or displacement by any other means, and any type of inhuman act committed in contravention of international human rights or humanitarian law or other crimes against humanity, are included as serious human rights violations in the existing Act.
However, the draft has categorized crimes other than the four crimes as 'other crimes' and provided scope for amnesty for these. Likewise, the sources hinted that the draft has excluded acts committed against international human rights or humanitarian law or other crimes against humanity from its list of heinous crimes.
One government minister familiar with the development claimed that the government is listing just four crimes proscribed by International Humanitarian Law under heinous crimes.
“The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center) have agreed to prosecute four types of crimes, forming a special court for this,” said Maoist Center leader Ram Narayan Bidari. According to him, the government is holding informal discussions with the main opposition CPN-UML before registering the amendment proposal in Parliament.
The Supreme Court ruling on the transitional justice mechanisms had also described acts against international human rights or humanitarian law or other crimes against humanity as heinous crimes.
Conflict victims and rights activists have been voicing doubts over the government move and its preparations, claiming that if the draft is registered as it is in Parliament, perpetrators of war crimes like the Badarmudhe bus blast could come under the scope of amnesty.
Suman Adhikari, chairman of Conflict Victims Common Platform, said the victims will suffer still more if the government presses ahead with the amendment bill with such provisions.
"We have also heard about the government's preparations for an amendment removing war crimes [under international law] from the list of heinous crimes. If the government upholds the amendment, thereby misinterpreting international humanitarian law and ignoring other provisions of the Geneva Convention, victims of incidents like Badarmudhe will not get justice," said Adhikari.
Advocate Raju Chapagain said that all types of unlawful killings should be excluded from the scope of amnesty. "Listing heinous crimes is not a negative move but the list under discussion is not enough to cover other war crimes,” he added.