Abril 23, 2007

Nepa: Anti-disappearance laws in the offing


KATHMANDU, April 23 - The government is set to amend the existing Civil Code to incorporate anti-disappearance and abduction provisions, a move many believe is a response to the call of national and international human rights community.

Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has prepared a draft bill to amend the Civil Code for the 12th time and has sent it to parliament for enactment.

The proposed legal provisions in the draft clearly state that disappearance and abduction are crimes and are subject to imprisonment and fine.

This is the first time, Nepal is preparing to adopt such laws since there is no specific law as of now to deal with disappearance and abduction cases. More interestingly, abduction and disappearance are still out of the domain of crime under the existing laws of the land.

The bill defines disappearance as an act that prevents the family of detainees from knowing his/her whereabouts after the expiry of the legal detention period. Besides, any act depriving detainees from his/her legal rights in detention will also be considered as disappearance.

Similarly, the bill states that any act of detaining/capturing individuals forcefully or by showing weapons, or by issuing threats is abduction.

The bill has proposed up to five years imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine as punishment to perpetrators of disappearance. Similarly, the crime of abduction is subject to 12 years imprisonment and Rs 100,000 in fine, according to the bill.

The national and international human rights community has been demanding such laws to deal with disappearances and abductions for a long time. But successive governments hadn't taken their call so seriously till date.

The draft bill is definitely good news for the human rights community. But the proposed bill has remained silent on whether it will be applicable to the outstanding disappearance and abduction cases.

According to National Human Rights Commission, 612 people have remained missing in the hands of security forces, while 182 are in the hands of Maoists since the beginning of armed insurgency in 1996. The International Committee of Red Cross puts this figure at over 800.


Posted by marga at Abril 23, 2007 6:37 PM | TrackBack
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