Thursday, August 23, 2007

TRC Bill is seriously flawed: ICJ, HRW
Two prominent international organisations working for human rights and justice have said the draft bill for the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is seriously flawed as it threatens victims of the decade-long armed conflict their rights to truth, justice and reparation.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the bill's provisions on issues like amnesty and the commission's independence from the government do not meet international legal standards.
The two watchdogs said the bill fails to reflect the international standards adopted in 2005 by the United Nations on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
“These standards, known as the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights, are based on international legal obligations, including Nepal's specific treaty obligations,” a release issued on Wednesday by the Geneva-based ICJ, which also included comments from the HRW, stated.
The draft Truth and Reconciliation Commission Bill 2007 proposes the establishment of a commission with a mandate to investigate gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflict that took place between government forces and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) between 1996 and 2006
The commission's proposed mandate would not address serious violations of international humanitarian law and that the bill also fails to clarify that the terms "gross violation of human rights" and "crimes against humanity" must be defined and applied in a manner that meets international standards, the release said.
"Thousands of Nepalis were killed or forcibly disappeared in the civil war, and their families have rights to truth, justice and reparation," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director of HRW. "But instead of delivering truth and justice, this draft bill could be used to let perpetrators off the hook."
Similarly, Deputy Secretary-General at the ICJ, Wilder Tayler, said, “The commission's legitimacy will also depend on the popular support it has from the people of Nepal, particularly the victims of the conflict."
While the proposed draft states that amnesty will not be provided to any person involved in "murder committed after taking under control or carried out in an inhuman manner; inhuman and cruel torture; rape," the vagueness of these terms creates leeway for amnesties for those responsible for murder or torture that the commission defines as not inhuman or cruel, the release further said.
The two organisations also urged the Nepal government to clarify that the terms "gross violation of human rights" and "crimes against humanity" are to be applied in accordance with international legal practice to ensure that any serious infringement of Nepal's international human rights obligations is duly investigated and that no acts that adversely affected civilians during the conflict are left out of the scope of the bill.
They also urged transparency in appointment procedures such as public hearings of the commissioners, and stressed that the preamble of the bill, which incorporates the objectives of the commission, should include objectives that duly fulfill Nepal's treaty obligations.

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