Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ICJ recommends changes in Military Act

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) submitted a 14-point recommendation to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Speaker Shuvas Nembang, calling them for an amendment to the Nepal Military Act 2006.
In its recommendation, the ICJ has called the government not to provide immunity to any army personnel from prosecution when he or she causes death or loss while discharging their duty. The ICJ has called the government to repeal a provision in the Act that has given immunity to army personnel.
It also recommended to transfer offences of homicide and rape by army personnel, currently being dealt with by court martials, to civilian courts and to respect the internationally accepted principles while dealing with such cases.
“We have submitted the memorandum to the PM and the Speaker and they assured that they will do the needful in this regard,” a lawyer with the ICJ, Hari Phuyal, told this daily. Nicolas Hawan, the General Secretary of the ICJ, has signed the memorandum.The ICJ also called the government for urgent promulgation of domestic legislation to criminalise cases of torture and enforced disappearances in compliance with international law and standards.
“The Act should be amended to make clear that all offences that involve, either expressly or implicitly, serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law should in all circumstances be heard by ordinary civilian courts,” it said.
The ICJ states that Section 70 of the Act should be amended so as not to prevent court proceedings against any member of the Nepal Army who has already been “subjected to departmental action”. “Otherwise it may shield the person from criminal responsibility,” it added. It also recommended that the Act should require the army to cooperate with the Nepal Police, and prosecuting and judicial authorities.
The ICJ also sought amendment to Section 67 of the Act to ensure that all judges in court martials have necessary qualifications, skill, experience and security of tenure to discharge judicial functions.
“Section 81 (2) of the Act should be amended to ensure its conformity with Article 14 (3) (d) of the ICCPR and Principle 18 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment while ensuring their rights to seek legal assistant of a counsel in a criminal offence,” it sated.
It also recommended amendment to Section 119 of the Act to ensure that everyone convicted of a criminal offence and penalised by a court martial has the right to appeal to an ordinary civilian court.

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