Amendment bill proposes removal of statute of limitations

  • transitional justice
  • Move a step towards ensuring justice to victims of the decade-long insurgency
- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
The proposed provisions will facilitate the transitional justice bodies’ tasks- Raman Kumar Shrestha, Attorney General

Oct 6, 2016-In what could be a major step towards ensuring justice to conflict victims, an amendment bill on the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act has proposed removal of the statute of limitations on conflict-era cases. Once endorsed, this would pave the way for registration, investigation and prosecution of crimes committed during the decade-long insurgency.

The proposed amendment is in line with a Supreme Court (SC) order issued two years ago. 

In a landmark ruling on January 2, 2014, the apex court had declared the Ordinance on Disappearances, Truth and Reconciliation Commission unconstitutional, saying it was in violation of international human rights law. The SC had ordered the ordinance be repealed or amended significantly to bring it in line with Nepal’s obligations under national and international law. 

The apex court had also asked the government to add a sub-clause to Clause 29, removing the statute of limitations for registering cases against the perpetrators found guilty by the transitional justice bodies. 

With regard to victims’ right to effective remedy, the SC had rejected the ordinance’s provision for the statute of limitations of 35 days for filing cases, saying such a time limited statute of limitations “will create impunity”.

For instance, rape is a crime against humanity. The statute of limitations on rape cases, which was earlier 35 days, was extended to 180 days in November last year. But with that also victims cannot approach authorities for the first information report about the cases that occurred during the decade-long insurgency which ended 10 years ago. 

Human rights community and transitional justice bodies—the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons—have long been calling on the government to remove the statute of limitations. 

“We believe the proposed provisions will facilitate the tasks of both the commissions in investigating the incidents of serious rights violation as well as recommending action against the perpetrators after establishing the truth,” said Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha. Removal of the statute of limitations on conflict-era cases will also end confusion over application of the anti-torture bill which seeks to criminalise torture. 

“Now, with the removal of the statute of limitations, all conflict-related cases can be tried at the to-be-formed Transitional Justice Special Court,” said Shrestha. 

A two-tier special court comprising a trial court and an appeal court with three judges in each level has been proposed in a draft bill to deal with all conflict-era cases. 

Published: 06-10-2016 07:37

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