Junio 29, 2007

Nepal: Government's flawed disappearance probe commission an attempt at extending impunity

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by the decision taken by the Government of Nepal on June 21, 2007 to form a 'High Level Probe Commission on Disappeared Persons' under the chairmanship of former-Supreme Court Justice Narendra Bahadur Neupane, as the establishment of this commission is in contradiction to the directives contained in the landmark June 1, 2007 Supreme Court verdict and Nepal’s domestic and international human rights commitments.

According to Nepalese human rights organisations, it is feared that such a commission will likely prolong and reinforce the culture of impunity that currently reigns in the country with regard to the problem of forced disappearances, enabling perpetrators to continue to avoid being brought to justice for their actions and ensuring that victims and their families are deprived of justice and reparation. It must be recalled that the United Nations declared that Nepal was the scene of the world’s worst problem of forced disappearance in 2003 and 2004, with the problem having been ongoing for years before then, notably since the beginning of the internal conflict between the then-government and the CPN-Maoist insurgents in the country in 1996.

In its June 1 judgement on disappearances, the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that existing legal arrangements that would govern any probe commission into any inquiry in the cases of human rights violations including disappearances are currently insufficient and that the current criminal legal apparatus lacks the necessary provisions to deal with these issues. The Court held that it is imperative to enact a separate law to deal with cases of forced disappearance. The AHRC has for some time been calling for the enactment of a law criminalizing disappearances as one of the effective ways to begin the process of challenging impunity concerning this very grave human rights violation and welcomes the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in this regard.

The Court directed the government to form a commission on enforced disappearances only after enacting a comprehensive law to govern it and suggested that the government consult the UN Convention of Enforced Disappearance before drafting and enacting such a law. It is recalled that it is a constitutional obligation for the government to follow orders issued by the Court and that the country’s Interim Constitution has preserved a mandatory provision that makes any verdict on the part of the Supreme Court binding on the government.

In light of this, the fact that the current government has formed a commission in blatant disregard for and opposition to the content of the directive order issued by the Court is a serious development that greatly undermines the government’s credibility concerning human rights and the fight against impunity. It has been suspected that the current government, which now also includes the Maoists, has no interest in dealing effectively with the issue of impunity or addressing the vast range and number of past human rights violations resulting from the country’s recently-ended internal conflict. The government’s decision to establish the afore-mentioned commission can only be seen as reinforcing this suspicion.

It is therefore imperative, if the government is to retain any credibility in terms of human rights, that this latest probe commission be immediately dissolved. A probe commission to look into disappearances should only be formed if it meets the requirements set out by the Supreme Court and is in line with international human rights laws and standards. The way in which the government of Nepal deals with the problem of forced disappearance will represent a litmus test concerning its ability to respect, protect and promote human rights and to ensure peace and security, for which it has been mandated by the people of Nepal following the popular uprisings in April 2006.

Posted by marga at Junio 29, 2007 6:13 PM | TrackBack
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