Government rules out international community’s role in transitional justice

  • Nepal at this stage does not feel any need to seek international assistance and support to complete the process, Foreign Minister Gyawali says
- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Mar 6, 2019-

The government has ruled out any kind of international mediation to conclude the remaining tasks of the transitional justice process which has been dragging on for more than a decade.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the media on Tuesday during a regular press briefing that at this stage Nepal does not feel any need to seek international assistance and support to complete the process.

The government’s position comes at a time when a section of the human rights community and conflict victims are seeking the United Nations’ role in some kind to complete the transitional justice process.

Gyawali, who returned from Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday, after participating in the 4oth session of the UN Human Rights Council, once again stressed that Nepal’s peace process is “nationally driven and home-grown”.

However, the government’s failure to amend the laws in line with the 2015 Supreme Court verdict, which struck down some provisions granting amnesty to serious human rights violations, and international obligations has made conflict victims increasingly concerned. Conflict victims have also been demanding that the transitional justice process be made victim-centric.

Days before the terms of the two commissions formed to deal with the transitional justice process ended, the Kathmandu-based foreign missions in January had urged the government to clarify its plans to take the process forward in 2019 at the initiative of the United Nations.

“[The government] might seek some kind of technical assistance, like confirming forensic report from some international experts, if need be,” Gyawali told reporters on Tuesday. “We need goodwill of the international community to complete the remaining tasks of the peace process. Our transformation to the peace should not be the project for no one. We ourselves should work to heal the wounds inflicted by the war,” While addressing the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Gyawali told the international community that there would be no blanket amnesty in serious human rights violations committed during the time of decade-long insurgency.

Nearly 16,000 people died in the 1996-2006 Maoist “people’s war”, which left thousands of people displaced and around 1,300 disappeared.

The two transitional justice bodies—Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons—were formed in 2015, but they have covered little ground in the last four years.

More than 60,000 complaints have been filed with the two commissions. But detailed investigation is yet to be started. The terms of the two commissions were extended last month for one year, but their officials are set to retire in mid-April. Two officials, however, have already resigned.

While the conflict victims have long blamed the two commissions for not being able to expedite the process and demanded their “complete restructuring”, their members have complained that they were not given enough legal teeth nor the resources.

Of late, the conflict victims too are divided—at least into two groups—with one faction calling for a credible home-grown process while another making a pitch for taking the international community in confidence to complete the transitional justice process.

Earlier, as per the decision of the government, the UN Commission on Human Rights had set up its office in Nepal in 2005 to carry out investigations on serious cases of human rights abuses and violations during the war and archived over 9,000 cases. Later in 2012, the government asked the UN human rights office to wind up its mission from Nepal.

“We have seen and experienced several international transitional processes,” Gyawali said on Tuesday, “but as of now, we don’t think there are any shortcomings on our part and we don’t think we need technical and physical presence of any international body.”

“The very nature of our process is reconciliation,” he added. “There is enormous international goodwill and support to our process for its completion. In doing so, we have successfully concluded political part of the peace process like elections to the Constituent Assembly, promulgation of the new constitution, federation of the nation, management of the arms and armies of the former Maoist combatants.”

Nepal is a member of the Human Rights Council since 2018 for a two-year term and seeking for yet another term.

Published: 06-03-2019 09:34

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