Rights groups want flawed Bill set right

Rights groups want flawed Bill set right
The Kathmandu Post
KATHMANDU, April 25 - Amid increasing concern over the worsening rights situation under the Maoist-led government, Nepal's human rights activists have joined hands to intensify pressure on the government to end impunity. They have created an ad-hoc committee to pressurize the government to address the flaws in the proposed supplementary bill concerning disappearances.

The committee has started a campaign to convince lawmakers to correct mistakes in the bill prior to presenting it for parliamentary scrutiny during the winter session. The committee was formed on Friday on the initiative of Human Rights and Democratic Forum (FOHRID).

A number of national and international rights organisations, including Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), US-based Human Rights Watch, and National Human Rights Commission have already recommended correction of a number of serious flaws in the ordinance, warning

 any attempt to pass the same without correction would mean continued impunity and failure of the entire effort to establish lasting peace.

The Committee also discussed identification of flaws in the proposed bill. Advocate Birendra Prasad Thapaliya, Chairperson of FOHRID, elaborated why and how the government should address the issue of impunity. He said correcting the flawed bill on disappearances would be the first step of the government toward ending impunity.

 Despite some corrections, the bill fails to meet international standards. The parliament, said Raju Chapagain, National Advisor of OHCHR, was the right place to fix the flaws.

Though the government has corrected some flaws in the ordinance, it has now been  transformed into a supplementary bill, and serious blunders such as definition of "disappearance", provision for punishment for convicted criminals, appointment of commissioners, and security for the witness and victims are yet to be fixed.  The supplementary bill erroneously states that only state or state involved disappearances will be accounted for, which means the disappearances perpetrated by groups which have undeclared support of the state will be ignored.

Rights activists have also demanded a provision recognising "organised crimes of disappearances" as crimes against humanity and regarding such cases there should be no time limit to register complaints.

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