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NHRC to govt: Ratify Rome Statute

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
Commission’s suggestion is timed with the government’s preparation of response to the United Nations Human Rights Council

Feb 19, 2016- The National Human Rights Commission has suggested that the government ratify Rome Statute to end impunity and to prevent recurrence of war crimes and crime against humanity in future.

The NHRC has argued that the ratification will reinforce Nepal’s commitment to human rights. The move will allow the International Criminal Court to investigate into cases of genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes and crime against aggression, only if the state is “unable” or “unwilling” to do so.
The Legislature-Parliament has already directed the government to ratify the statute, while Nepal’s civil society has been lobbying for it to prevent such incidents from happening in future. “The statute has no retrospective effect as purported by some political parties,” said Bed Prasad Bhattarai, acting secretary at the NHRC. “This legal regime will help ensure non-occurrence of violence and torture in the future.”
The commission made the suggestions as the government finalises its response to the UN Human Rights Council. During the Second Cycle of Universal Periodic Review in November last year, Nepal had committed to provide response to the 29 recommendations made by member states before the 31st session of the Council to be held on March 16.
During the UPR session, Nepal had accepted 147 of the 195 recommendations and noted 18 while putting 29 recommendations under consideration. Ten countries, including Switzerland and Germany, had recommended that Nepal ratify the statute ratified by 123 countries.
The suggestion from the national rights body comes at a time when the country has just initiated the transitional justice process by setting up truth commissions.
Although the government appears to be unwilling to support the process, the conflict victims and human rights community have been mounting pressure on the state to move the process forward.
The government endorsed the regulations for the transitional justice commissions only after six months, while it has not amended the Transitional Justice Act in line with the Supreme Court verdict. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has suggested eight amendments, while the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons has sought three amendments to the Act. Moreover, the
government is yet to draft laws to criminalise torture and disappearances, while
the statute of limitation to report on rape cases is the major hurdle in the process.
“We have not finalised our response yet, but we are more focused on domesticating the conventions we have ratified in the past,” said Ramesh Dhakal, joint-secretary at the Law and Human Right Division of the Prime Minister’s Office. Nepal has ratified 24 international conventions so far.
Although the UN member states had urged Nepal to ratify the statute in the UPR First Cycle in 2011, Nepal has been refusing it.
The NHRC has reiterated the need to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to protect Nepali migrant workers. An estimated 4 million Nepalis are working in various countries, which contribute around 29 percent of the national GDP by sending remittances back home.
Nepal is basically a labour sending country. The convention provides lesser obligation for labour-sending nations than labour-receiving countries. Nepal has signed labour agreements with only six countries—Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, South Korea, Israel and Japan.
The NHRC has asked the government to ratify all the recommendations made during the second UPR Cycle. “Ratification of conventions does not add financial burden to the state,” said Bhattarai. “It rather strengthens the human rights situation
and respect for human life and dignity.”

Published: 19-02-2016 09:38

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