Work on Special Court for conflict-era cases starts

Published On: August 31, 2016 01:10 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Aug 31: The government has started preparations for setting up a separate Special Court for conflict-era cases of human rights violations  recommended by the transitional justice mechanisms for prosecution.

The authorities have started drafting a separate bill for this purpose. The government is drafting the bill along with another bill to amend the existing Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act.

As legal advisor to the government, Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha has been holding a series of meetings with stakeholders, including conflict victims, civil society, human rights activists and the international community.

"Cases from the armed-conflict era, which are now in the regular court system, could be transferred to the Special Court under a new law or through the amendment of some existing legal provisions," said Shrestha.

The Supreme Court stated on February 26, 2015 that cases that are sub-judice at various courts cannot be transferred to the transitional justice mechanisms.

"Keeping the Supreme Court ruling in mind, a provision for transferring such cases to a Special Court will be brought in along with another provision that such cases could be sent to the TRC for a certain period for the purpose of providing reparations to the victims," said a source well-informed about the bills drafting process.

"The regular court system can convict and sentence a perpetrator but the principles of transitional justice demand reparations for the victims as well as establishment of their identity and their social dignity. The government will take care of all these matters while drafting the bill to amend the CIEDP and TRC Act as well as a bill to establish the Special Court," said Shrestha.

"Establishment of a separate court would help take care of the conflict-era cases and assist in the issuing of uniform verdicts on the basis of evidence," he added.

Shrestha also claimed that the CIEDP and TRC Act will be amended taking into consideration International Humanitarian Law, the Comprehensive Peace Accord, Supreme Court verdicts in cases of transitional justice, other national laws, the principle of transitional justice and international standards, along with national needs.

"International Humanitarian Law has defined rape, torture, enforced disappearance and murder after taking a person into control as heinous crimes and I can assure all conflict victims and human rights activists that the amendment bill will ensure there is no amnesty for such crimes," claimed Shrestha.

TRC, CIEDP tenures could be extended
Shrestha also hinted that an amendment of the CIEDP and TRC Act could extend the tenures of both the transitional mechanisms. The existing law has specified tenures of two years for the commissions along with a provision for extension by a further one year.

"We are discussing the issue; I am constantly discussing it with the prime minister and the government is clear that the transitional mechanisms should be provided all the legal backup and resources," said Shrestha.

The source also told Republica that the government is planning to extend the tenures of the two commissions for at least one to one and half years, for completing their investigations into complaints. Prolonging the commissions until all the court processes are completed in cases recommended for prosecution is also under discussion, the source added.

Shrestha claimed that the government led by CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is of a mind  to complete the remaining tasks of transitional justice without any delay.

"I cannot give a fixed date but I can say that the bills related to transitional justice will be registered in Parliament soon, after completing all necessary procedures with the ministries concerned," said Shrestha.

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