Conclude Disappearance Cases : Rights Bodies

Rights agencies have said that Nepal government should permit courts to try the cases of enforced disappearances and other serious crimes. They have also demanded the implementation of Supreme Court ruling regarding these cases.

Issuing a statement on the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on Monday, Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said thousands of Nepali families were no closer to knowing the truth of what happened to their missing loved ones.

Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered to investigate gross violations of human that occurred during the conflict from 1996 to 2006, the agencies said. They have demanded to conduct a meaningful and effective transitional justice process to establish the truth and provide justice for the cases of serious abuses.

The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) was formed in 2015 as part of the transitional justice process.
In 2020, the CIEDP published a list of 2,506 people allegedly forcibly disappeared, but it is not known what happened to the victims, and nobody has been held accountable.

“The families of victims of enforced disappearance suffer deep anguish, not knowing what happened to their loved ones,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Alongside the disappearances commission, Nepal also established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which received over 60,000 complaints of abuses from the conflict era, the statement said. But it said that the commission has failed to complete the investigation.

In 2014, Nepal’s parliament passed the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, providing a legal framework for the two transitional justice commissions.
However, the act also authorised these commissions to recommend amnesty and mediate cases, even in situations involving grave crimes and gross violations of human rights, including enforced disappearances, the statement said.

In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down these provisions and ordered the government to amend the act. The government petitioned to overturn the ruling, but the court rejected the petition in April 2020.
With successive Nepali governments failing to amend the law, since 2015, the United Nations has declined to engage with Nepal’s transitional justice bodies because they do not meet basic international legal standards, especially with respect to the broad provisions to grant amnesty to perpetrators, said that statement.

Victims and civil society organisations in Nepal have been seeking meaningful consultations, amendment of the law, and appointment of commissioners only after the law has been amended. However, Nepal’s political parties have failed to hold meaningful consultations with victims, the statement said.

A credible process to establish the fate of the disappeared and provide justice, truth, and reparation for these cases needs to earn the trust of victims and place their needs at its heart, said Dinushika Dissanayake, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.
The police in the past have refused to investigate cases, either initially by arguing that acts of enforced disappearance were not criminal offenses under national law, or saying that the transitional justice commissions would investigate, said that statement.

Source : TRN,