HRW calls for removal of 35-day statute limitation to file rape case

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Sep 24, 2014-

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Nepal government to remove a 35-day statute of limitations on reporting rape cases, arguing that the law bars the victims of sexual violence from getting justice.

A report released by the New York-based organisation on Tuesday warned that the perpetrators of sexual violence during the conflict era could go unprosecuted if the law is not removed. It has said that though the transitional justice act does not grant amnesty on such cases, the accused could invoke the statute of limitations and walk free.

The report titled ‘Silence and Forgotten: Survivors of Nepal’s Conflict-Era Sexual Violence’ says several victims were denied justice because of the law.

The HRW had interviewed over 50 women who were subjected to sexual assault by both the state and the rebel sides during a decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The report states that social stigma attached to sexual assault and fear of retaliation prevented many women from reporting these crimes during the conflict. “Nepal government should take immediate measures to encourage women to report these crimes and seek justice, and develop a reparation programme to address critical needs of survivors of sexual violence and torture, including long term health care and livelihood support,” the report states.

Rape victims have not been included in the government’s interim compensation programme.

A draft bill on violence against woman, which calls for the statute of limitations to be scrapped, was submitted to the government in April last year.

It has yet to be endorsed. Besides the bill endorsement, rights activists have also demanded a fast-track court, guidelines for police on rape investigations and proper rehabilitation for victims.

According to human rights advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla, many cases of rape and sexual abuse were not recorded as the then Maoist rebels did not trust the regime. “The cases are unlikely to be reported to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as there is the 35-day statute of limitations,” she said.

Eight years have passed since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which envisions formation of commissions of enquiry on truth and reconciliation and enforced disappearances within six months.

Published: 25-09-2014 09:17

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