Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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Nepal: “Disappearances” Law Must Meet International Standards

(Kathmandu)- Prominent human rights organizations today formally asked the Government of Nepal to amend the latest draft Disappearances of Persons (Crime and Punishment) bill to make it comply with international law and standards. 

The organizations said the plan for a Commission of Inquiry into enforced disappearances is a first step towards ensuring implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the landmark June 2007 ruling on enforced disappearances by the Supreme Court.  The organizations said that making enforced disappearances a criminal offence and establishing a Commission of Inquiry into disappearances would help victims and their families to ensure that the truth is revealed, justice is done and reparations are made.

In the memorandum submitted to the Minister of Peace and Reconstruction Rakam Chamjong marking the International Day of the Disappeared, the organizations including the Accountability Watch Committee, Advocacy Forum Nepal, Amnesty International, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, Human Rights Watch, International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Commission of Jurists and Informal Sector Service Centre proposed a number of amendments to the draft bill.

Amendments recommended by the organizations include:

  • Defining ‘enforced disappearance’ consistently with the internationally recognized definition and recognizing that, under some circumstances, the act of enforced disappearance amounts to a crime against humanity;
  • Defining the modes of individual criminal liability, including responsibility of superiors and subordinates, consistent with internationally accepted legal standards;
  • Establishing minimum and maximum penalties for the crime of enforced disappearance and for  enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity;
  • Ensuring the independence, impartiality and competence of the Commission of Inquiry into enforced disappearances;
  • Ensuring that the Commission of Inquiry is granted the powers and means to effectively fulfil its mandate; 
  • Ensuring that all aspects of the  Commission’s work respect, protect and promote the rights of victims, witnesses and alleged perpetrators;
  • Ensuring that the recommendations of the Commission are made public and implemented.

These recommendations are based on international law and standards relevant to the investigation and prosecution of enforced disappearances, as reflected in the jurisprudence of regional and international human rights bodies, international declarations and treaties, as well as the jurisprudence and practice of international and national criminal jurisdictions.

The organizations also called on the Government of Nepal to promptly sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  Currently, 81 states have signed the treaty and 13 have ratified. Seven more ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force.

The organizations believe that the criminalization of the act of enforced disappearances and the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into it would help victims and their families to ensure truth, justice and reparations.

Background

The draft Disappearances Bill made public by the Government of Nepal would criminalize the practice of enforced disappearance and provide for establishing a Commission of Inquiry to address the enforced disappearances that occurred during the armed conflict in Nepal from February 13, 1996 to November 21, 2007. However, some provisions in the bill are not in line with international law and standards.

A delegation including Govinda Bandi and Deependra Jha (Accountability Watch Committee), Hem Kumar Khadka and Rameshwar Nepal (Amnesty International Nepal), Kamal Pathak (Advocacy Forum), Vincent Calderhead (International Commission of Jurist) and Subodh Raj Pyakurel (Informal Sector Service Centre) submitted their memorandum to the Minister of Peace and Reconstruction on this issue on the International Day of the Disappeared. 

August 30 is the 26th International Day of the Disappeared. Every year nongovernmental organizations, families associations and grassroots groups, use this day to commemorate remembers the disappeared and to demand justice for victims of enforced disappearances through activities and events.
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Note to media

The full text of the memorandum can be downloaded in English and Nepali .

 

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