Disappearance bill on anvil
The government is making preparations to introduce through ordinance an anti-disappearance law and a commission on disappearances, something not desired by national and international human rights organizations.
According to a highly-placed government source, a draft prepared by the Home Ministry after the December 7, 2007 agreement among the seven parties was recently sent to the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for their reactions.
A draft of the ordinance obtained by the Post proposes a five-member commission on enforced disappearances but does not treat the act of disappearance as a crime. This means that the proposed draft ordinance does not fully comply with the June 1, 2007 Supreme Court ruling.
In a landmark verdict then on enforced disappearances, the apex court had issued strictures to the government requiring an act of disappearance to be
treated as a crime under any proposed anti-disappearance law.
"If such a law emphasizes only the investigation and does not treat the act of disappearance as a crime, it is useless," said advocate Govinda Bandi, a member of the Detainee Probe Committee which was formed by the Supreme Court and which had helped the court to pass the June 1 verdict.
This is the fourth time the government has prepared the draft of an anti-disappearance law. Earlier efforts aborted after vehement criticism from both national and international human rights organizations.
The present move also has evoked concern at international human rights organizations like the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an organization working for justice and human rights.
In a statement issued from Geneva, ICJ urged the government Wednesday not to introduce through ordinance any law relating to a Disappearance Commission or a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"…a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Disappearances Commission are adopted through regular democratic legislative processes and are not adopted by ordinance," ICJ said in the statement.
Besides, it has suggested the government adopt such legislation following broad-based national consultations and after meeting Nepal's rights obligations.
ICJ further added that introduction of such laws via ordinance violates the Supreme Court's directives and the Interim Parliament's instructions.
The parliament, a couple of months ago, instructed Home Minister Krishna Sitoula to introduce the legislation only after holding extensive consultations.
When asked to comment on the government's latest move to introduce anti-disappearance law, a senior Home Ministry official who preferred anonymity simply said, "We prepared the ordinance as per the agreement of the seven parties."
By Kiran Chapagain/ekantipur