Outgoing AG hopes his ‘good initiative’ will get continuity

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu

Aug 4, 2016-During his three-month stint as the chief legal advisor to the KP Oli led government, Attorney General Hari Phuyal made quit a dent on administrative as well as legal fronts to ensure access to justice for public. 

Of a number of administrative reforms and draft amendments, the draft amendments to the Government Cases Act and the regulations and the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act stand out. 

Phuyal, who tendered his resignation on Wednesday, has already forwarded the draft amendment on the Government Cases Act and the regulations to the law ministry. The proposed amendment, if endorsed, compels the Attorney General’s (AG) Office to register case against rights violators as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission. 

As per current provision , the constitutional body forwards its recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Office for implementation. However, the PMO has never forwarded these recommendations to the AG Office, citing legal lacunas. The proposed amendments will bridge the legal gaps. After the amendment, the NHRC will directly ask the AG Office to take penal action against the perpetrators. The AG Office, if deems further investigation is required, will have to carry out one on its own, but file a lawsuit. 

In 16 years, the constitutional rights watchdog has recommended action in 738 cases of rights violation, of which 105 recommendations have been implemented. All of the implemented cases are related to providing compensation to the victims, while not a single person has been held responsible for serious rights violation.

Although the Supreme Court has issued a verdict making it mandatory for the government to implement recommendations of the rights body, the government has been avoiding its responsibility showing legal loophole in the act and regulation. 

Phuyal has drafted provisions in the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act to which both the warring parties --CPN (Maoist Centre) and the establishment have agreed. 

CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also commended the efforts of Oli-government to accommodate the concerns of victims and international community to move the transitional justice process. 

The draft amendment has narrowed down the list of serious human rights violations to four from current nine, relax the provision to grant amnesty to perpetrators, bring the cases sub-judice in court under the purview of the transitional justice bodies.

The draft has proposed rape, enforced disappearance, torture and cold-blooded murder as crimes in which amnesty cannot be granted.

Besides, outgoing AG has developed a medico legal format to document medical reports to investigate crimes and prepare charge sheet for criminal prosecution. w

He has also prepared victims and witness protection guideline, laying out responsibilities and process for government attorney and investigating police to carry out investigation into cases. “This is aimed at documenting different aspect related to crime and individuals involved, which I believe will keep the report balanced,” said Phuyal. 

When he joined the office, he received complaints of not producing arrest warrant, preventing relative to meet the detainees, report of torture in detention. He has developed a regulations custody monitoring team comprising AG or attorney and representative of BAR and media. 

In an attempt to make a model of corruption free office, the AG Office has changed a whole set of officials, ranging from office assistant to government attorneys, from Kathmandu District Attorney office. The initiative was taken after there were reports of irregularities in the office. 

“I have done what I could have done in given time,” said Phuyal, “I hope the new government will give continuity to good initiative. On transitional justice process, I hope the new government will pick up from where we left.”

Published: 04-08-2016 11:24

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