#World Report 2023

Human Rights Watch expresses concern over stalled transitional justice process in Nepal

Published On: January 13, 2023 08:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 13: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed concern over the failure of Nepal to conclude the transitional justice process. This comes in the wake of US Ambassador to Nepal Dean R Thompson saying that the international community is keenly interested to see Nepal’s transitional justice process moving forward to address the concerns of the victims.

In the World Report 2023 released globally on Wednesday, the global human rights watchdog said the law drafted by the erstwhile government to advance the transitional justice process had tried to hinder accountability for some serious crimes and failed to meet Nepal's international obligations despite having some positive steps. 

The government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba in August, 2022 had tabled a bill to amend the 2014 transitional justice law, which had been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015. "The failure of successive governments to amend the law is a key reason that there has been no progress in delivering justice and accountability for conflict-era violations since a 10-year Maoist insurgency ended in 2006," reads the report.

Nepal has two transitional justice commissions, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons. The two commissions have received over 60,000 complaints from victims but have failed to complete a single investigation.

The bill was drafted following only brief consultations with the victims’ groups and civil society. "The new bill had some positive aspects, including on the right to reparation and interim relief for victims who were left out of earlier programs," reads the report. "It would prevent amnesty for certain categories of violations and would establish a special court to hear cases recommended by the transitional justice commissions."

Among other things, the bill would also guarantee the right of the families of victims of enforced disappearance to their relative’s property and would mandate the transitional justice commissions to study the root causes and impact of the conflict and recommend institutional reforms.

However, the HRW said the bill also contained provisions that would hinder accountability, making it difficult or impossible to prosecute those responsible for serious violations including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Other provisions that violate international law include limitations on the right to appeal. It was not brought to a vote before parliament was dissolved on September 17, according to the report.

The HRW in its report has painted a bleak picture of Nepal in various other fronts of human rights. The global human rights watchdog alleged that violations by the police and army, including cases of alleged extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths resulting from torture, were rarely investigated, and alleged perpetrators were almost never held accountable. 

The report also stated that members of marginalized communities, including Dalits, are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and have particular difficulty accessing justice. In July, after public protests, parliament extended the statute of limitations for filing rape allegations from one year to two years for adult victims, and three years for children after they turn 18. Activists said that the statute of limitations remains among several obstacles to justice. 

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