KATHMANDU, April 18: United Nations rapporteurs and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances have expressed serious concerns over lack of impartiality, independence and transparency in the procedures adopted for the appointment of members of two transitional justice mechanisms of Nepal.
In a letter written to Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, they have said that ‘undefined’ selection procedures for the appointment of the members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) could affect selection of new commissioners, leaving insufficient guarantee for the impartiality, independence and transparency in the appointment process.
The special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment, special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences and the UN Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances have jointly expressed concerns that the proposed and later adopted ordinance on CIEDP and TRC could contravene international norms and standards.
While urging the government to ensure that any legislation establishing transitional justice mechanisms is in compliance with international norms, they have called on the government to amend several provisions of the TRC Act to put it in conformity with international standards, in particular those relating to the TRC’s competence to recommend amnesties to perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and serious violation of international humanitarian laws.
They have also shown their concerns over the lack of progress in the work undertaken by both the commissions and the possible amendment of the Act on the TRC and CIEDP.
“We strongly call on your government to urgently initiate a process of amendment of the Act, in line with the international standards concerning its mandate and the selection of its members,” they said in the joint statement.
“Such amendments should follow appropriate consultation with victims, families of victims, civil society, and international human rights commission. We further call your government to ensure fairness, impartiality and transparency in the appointment of members of the commission,” the letter further stated.
In the letter addressed to Foreign Minister Gyawali, the UN rapporteurs have also called on the government to enhance participation and protection of victims and witnesses, implement court verdicts concerning transitional justice and address conflict-era cases promptly and effectively.
“We reiterate our serious concerns for the lack of progress in the implementation of the transitional justice initiatives in Nepal,” adds the letter.
Among other things, they have reminded the government of the pending visit requests from the special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantee of non-recurrence and from the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.