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Nepal: Amnesty for War Criminals Planned

(Mar. 2, 2008) Nepal's Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has finalized draft laws on constituting a truth and reconciliation commission and a commission on the disappeared for crimes committed during the country's ten years of armed conflict. It was reported in the Nepalese press on February 1, 2008, however, that the government was planning to use those laws to grant amnesty to the guilty and was seeking to issue the law in the form of an ordinance while the Parliament was not in session. A ministry source indicted that should a search be conducted for the persons responsible for the disappearances, "responsible leaders in the main ruling parties, high level officials in government and army officers will automatically become subject to action." Because "war criminals are to be found on both the Maoist and government sides, those in government are colluding to save them, and the matter of constituting a commission on disappeared citizens could only be window dressing," high-ranking government officials were quoted as saying. (Nepal Government Planning Amnesty for War Criminals, SAMARCHAPATRA, Feb. 1, 2008, Open Source Center No. SAP20080201950013.)

On June 1, 2007, the Supreme Court had directed the government to establish a commission on the disappeared in response to cases filed by the relatives of persons who had been arrested on given dates but who had subsequently disappeared. The Court also ruled that the government should draft legislation defining as a crime the act of causing disappearances, act against the perpetrators, end the state whereby such acts could be carried out with impunity, and provide the victims with treatment and compensation. "However, parliament did not come up with any important bills on disappeared citizens and a truth and reconciliation commission even though it had a long session, and an attempt is being made to bring in such law only after parliament has recessed, something which in itself smacks of non-transparency," human rights advocate Dr. Gopal Krishna Shivakote contended. (Id.)

The seven political parties that are sharing power had reached a 23-point agreement in late December to constitute by January 22, 2008, the two commissions as well as commissions on state restructuring and other important matters. By the last week of January, however, the agreement had not yet been implemented. (Id.; 23-Point Agreement by the Seven Party Alliance, United Nations Mission in Nepal Web site, Dec. 23, 2007, available at