Legislation begins to punish disappearance

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
Commission Chairman Lokendra Mallick says thereis the need for a separate retrospective law to deal with insurgency-era cases

Dec 25, 2015-After repeated requests to formulate a law fell on closed ears, the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) has started drafting the Act to criminalise disappearance.The commission, formed 10 months ago, has been mandated to investigate into cases of disappearance during the conflict and recommend action against the perpetrators. “We’ll become irrelevant if we do not have a separate law to criminalise disappearances,” said Lokendra Mallick, the CIEDP chair.

A recently endorsed penal code considers act of disappearance as criminal offence. However, this provision is not retrospective. A retired justice, Mallick argued that there is the need for a separate retrospective law to deal with insurgency-era cases.

The Transitional Justice Act also defines disappearance as “serious violation of human rights”. However, there is no Act yet to treat such incidents as offence. “We have the mandate to write to the attorney general to prosecute a person found guilty on rights violation but there is no law under which action may be recommended against such persons,” said Mallick.The commission, under its chairman, has formed a seven-member panel to formulate the law. It includes a commissioner, secretary, joint secretaries of peace and law ministries, a representative of disappeared families and the commission under-secretary.

According to Mahesh Sharma Poudel, secretary at the commission, the team

is already halfway through the bill. “We plan to finish the draft within a week or so,” he said.The commission has a two-year mandate, with the possibility of extension by one year. However, the body started formulating the bill only 10 months after its formation.

Chairperson Mallick, however, said the commission had reminded the government about the legislation several times. “We also formulated the regulation and other procedures over the period,” he said. The government has not even endorsed the regulation forwarded by the commission five months ago. In the absence of the rules, the transitional justice body has not been able to start taking complaints from the conflict victims. The Supreme Court had also instructed the government to formulate the Act regarding torture and disappearances and amend the Transitional Justice Act in line with international standards.

The government was reminded time and again by the international human rights community to criminalise torture and disappearances. “We will start receiving complaints from victims once the regulation is endorsed,” said Mallick. “We hope the government will endorse the Act by the time we complete our investigation.”


Published: 25-12-2015 09:25

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