6 January 2014
GENEVA - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay welcomed on 4 January the decision taken on January 2 by the Supreme Court of Nepal that amnesties should not be granted for serious human rights violations committed during the 10-year internal conflict.
“This is a significant development for the thousands of victims of the conflict. The Supreme Court’s decision to block amnesties is the first step towards ensuring that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not be used to avoid or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related cases,” said the High Commissioner.
In March 2013, the Nepalese Government passed an Ordinance to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights violations during the 1996-2006 conflict. At least 13,000 people were killed and an additional 1,300 people went missing during this period. The Ordinance sought to provide the Commission with the power to grant amnesties for serious human rights violations.
In response to proceedings initiated by victims groups and human rights activists, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the provisions of the Ordinance concerning amnesties, limitations on criminal prosecution and a 35-day limit for filing cases contravene fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal, its justice system and international law.
The Court ordered that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should meet international standards, including with regard to guarantees of autonomy and impartiality, and ensure the involvement and protection of victims and witnesses. The Court also ordered the establishment of a separate commission to look into the cases of disappeared people.
“I now call on the Government of Nepal to urgently implement this important decision, in the spirit of working towards genuine and lasting peace, and to respect the demand of the Nepalese people for justice,” Ms. Pillay said.
The High Commissioner also stressed that further work is needed to reinforce criminal justice in Nepal as many serious human rights violations, including torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances are still not properly sanctioned by domestic law. “I call for the rapid amendment of criminal laws and procedures in line with international law,” Ms. Pillay said.
The High Commissioner stressed that her Office stands ready to provide support and advice to the Government of Nepal throughout this process.
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