Tuesday, February 13, 2007

ICJ calls for amendment of interim constitution; wants independence of judiciary guaranteed

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has written a letter addressed to Speaker of the parliament Subhash Nemwang appealing for the amendment in the interim constitution to allow for the fully independent judiciary, among others.

In a letter signed by its general secretary Nicholas Howen, the ICJ has recommended that the "interim constitution be amended to state clearly that the judiciary in Nepal shall be independent and that it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe that independence."

The letter has stated that the interim constitution should also guarantee the right of everyone to be tried, not only by a competent court or judicial authority, but by an independent court or judicial authority.

"Ensuring and protecting the independence of the judiciary is at the heart of the rule of law, the administration of justice, including fair trial rights, and is an essential part of the institutions necessary to implement human rights guarantees and provide effective remedies," it further states.

The ICJ has mentioned that the independence of the judiciary could well become critical in Nepal as a check and balance and oversight mechanism in the months ahead.

The ICJ's letter has come in the wake of numerous appeals by the legal practitioners regarding the need to make judiciary fully independent in the interim constitution.

In its letter, the ICJ has listed thirteen recommendations for amendment in the interim constitution including in the provisions about discrimination, fundamental rights, rights against enforced disappearances, freedom of expression and emergency powers.

The ICJ has stated that promulgation of the interim constitution is a considerable achievement and represents a further positive development towards sustainable peace and democracy in Nepal. "The ICJ welcomes many of the provisions in the Interim Constitution, in particular the confirmation that Nepal is an inclusive and fully democratic State committed to multiparty democracy, the commitment to the rule of law, the recognition of the National Human Rights Commission as a constitutional body, and the elaboration of fundamental human rights and freedoms. These components will lay a foundation for the protection and promotion of human rights in Nepal," it says.

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