Nepal rejects UN suggestions on TJ-related cases

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
Govt tells UN Human Rights Council it is yet to be prepared to enact conventions ratified earlier

Mar 1, 2016-Nepal has rejected all the 29 recommendations on human rights that were made during the 23rd Universal Periodic Review in Geneva including the conventions directly related to transitional justice.

In its reply to the UN Human Rights Council, the government said Nepal is yet to be prepared to enact the conventions ratified earlier. “It should not be perceived as Nepal’s refusal to accept the recommendations made by the UN member states,” said Ramesh Dhakal, joint-secretary at the Law and Human Rights division of the Prime Minister’s Office. “Nepal is preparing itself to adopt the conventions in future.”

Nepal’s response will be discussed during the 31st session of the Council to be held on March 16.

Nepal, which had presented the new constitution and formation of transitional justice bodies as achievements, has refused to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, some of the most relevant measures for a post-conflict nation.

The government has formed the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons but disappearance and torture are yet to be criminalised. Ironically, Nepal Army Col Kumar Lama has been arrested and being tried under the international jurisdiction in the United Kingdom. Lama, accused of torturing two alleged Maoist cadres, was arrested in the foreign land as his country’s law did not criminalise torture.

“Nepal is sovereign to reject recommendations but their mass rejection gives a message that Nepal’s commitment to protection of human rights is just a sham,” said rights lawyer Govind Bandi. “It does not give a good message to the world.”

Bandi argued that Nepal’s act contradicts its own commitments made at international forums. Nepal has signed International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but failed to set up the mechanism to guarantee civil rights. Nepal has signed Geneva Convention but not the Rome Statute, both related to humanitarian issues of civilians and combatants in wartime. “There is no point to be defensive about war-related treaties as they have no retrospective effect,” said Bandi.

As the country has initiated the transitional justice process, the convention related to torture, disappearances and war crimes were highly relevant. Of the 29 recommendations, 10 were related to the Rome Statute while a majority of the remaining suggestions were linked with the newly formed transitional justice mechanism and some related to torture, disappearances, human trafficking and same sex marriage.

“If the government rejected all the recommendations, that would become a zero-sum game,” said Bed Prasad Bhattarai, acting secretary at the National Human Rights Commission. “The UN platform is also an opportunity for us to showcase our achievements in protecting and promoting civil rights.”

The national rights body had suggested that the government accept all the recommendations.


Published: 01-03-2016 08:44

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