Enforce court verdicts: Conflict victims

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
NHRC pressed to ensure the implementation of court verdicts against rights violators

Jan 20, 2016-Conflict victims have asked the National Human Rights Commission to ensure the implementation of court verdicts against rights violators.

Members of Conflict Victims Common Platform on Tuesday met commission Chairman Anup Raj Sharma to remind him of the incidents of rights violation during the decade-long conflict and the plight of the victims.

The commission, in its 15-year history, has probed into 230 cases of rights violation while it has recommended action against four cases so far. The government has recorded cases of over 16,000 extrajudicial killings, 1,300 disappearances, displacement of over 60,000 people and scores of torture cases.

“Who should we turn to when the court verdicts are being ignored?” wondered Janak Raut, a member of the platform. Raut was tortured in the Army barracks in Kapilvastu.

As the transitional justice bodies formed 11 months ago have remained idle, the court has been issuing verdicts in conflict-era cases. The Maina Sunar case is the recent one.

The Kavre District Court last week issued an order to reopen the case of Sunar, in which the court had issued a verdict against four Army officials--Bobi Khatri, Sunil Prasad Adhikari, Amit Pun, and Niranjan Basnet--on the charge of her illegal detention, torture, and killing in 2008. On January 7, the Supreme Court ruled against pardoning UCPN (Maoist) former lawmaker Bal Krishna Dhungel convicted in the murder of Ujjain Shrestha of Okhaldhuga, opening an avenue for his arrest. However, the government has not arrested him. He was convicted of murder in 2004.

In September last year, the Surkhet Appellate Court upheld the Dailekh District Court’s decision to slap up to two-year jail term on the murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa, who was buried alive by the then Maoist rebels.

“The commission should not just record incidents of rights violations. It should ensure that the recommendations for action against convicted rights violators are implemented,” said Raut.

Purni Maya Tamang, the widow of Arjun Lama who was abducted and killed in 2005 by the then Maoists, Sabitri Shrestha, sister of Ujjain Shrestha, and displaced Shankar Budhathoki urged Sharma to take a lead in bringing the culprits to justice. During the meeting, the delegates discussed the issue of Ganga Maya Adhikari, whose son Krishna Prasad Adhikari, 18, was killed by the rebel Maoists in 2004. The apex court in December issued an order to take the trial ahead by remanding accused Chhabilal Poudel into judicial custody.

Rights lawyer Govinda Bandi said the regular court should take its course, as the transitional justice bodies remain idle. The transitional justice Act has also specified that the conflict-era cases sub judice in courts do not come under the purview of the transitional justice commissions.

“The court has to deal with the criminal part of the cases, which does not contradict with the jurisdiction of the transitional bodies,” said Bandi. “Criminal accountability lies in the court.”

However, the victims fear the government ignored the court verdict by misusing the political clout. “If everyone is equal before the law, why the law that applies to general public does not apply to politicians?” she questioned, referring to Dhungel. 

Sabitri said that she senses threat from Dhungel. “A murder convict goes scot-free without being questioned. How can you be sure that a murderer cannot attack us?”

Chairman Sharma told the delegates that the commission would help the victims keeping within its jurisdiction.

Published: 20-01-2016 08:50

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