The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) takes exception to the information that the government of
The government is once more hiding behind the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)'s clause that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be established to conduct investigations into allegations of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity during the time of the conflict. The pretext that conflict-related crimes fell under the jurisdiction of the TRC and could not be investigated until the TRC was established has been invoked repeatedly to justify moves undermining the accountability of conflict-related crimes. Once more the government has decided to voluntarily bypass article 7.1.3 of the CPA in which both parties have expressed "their commitment and state(d) that necessary investigation will be undertaken against any individual involved in violating the rights mentioned in the agreement and action will be taken against ones that are found guilty. Both parties also ascertain that they will not protect impunity and along with it, the rights of the people affected by the conflict and torture and the families of the people who have been disappeared will be safeguarded." By adding that clause to the CPA, the parties have agreed to make accountability and justice the cornerstone for reconciliation and democratisation in
National and international human rights institutions have regularly taken the stance that a commitment to create transitional justice institutions in the future does not elude the need for investigations and prosecutions by criminal justice institutions, let alone for investigation by the NHRC which only aims at providing "recommendations" for prosecutions.
The Supreme Court of Nepal has for instance repeatedly ruled that commitments to transitional justice commissions which are yet to be established cannot override investigations and prosecutions through criminal justice. In March, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in
By extension, nothing in the CPA, in the constitution or in the legal framework of
The latest government undertaking is all the more worrisome in that it attempts to weaken the national body who has been vested with primary responsibility to protect and promote the human rights of the Nepalese people. The investigative powers of the Commission as well as strong guarantees of its independence should be the biggest assets for it to accomplish its mandate. By directly interfering in the NHRC's sphere of responsibility, the government is therefore trying to further weaken its position as a watchdog, thereby avoiding scrutiny for its violations of its national and international human rights obligations. This last move has to be put into the perspective of long-lasting efforts by successive governments to undermine the authority of the NHRC exemplified by the alarmingly low rate of implementation of its recommendations (according to NHRC data, only 8.8% of its were implemented between 2000 and 2010) or the lack of cooperation to its investigations.
A strong and independent NHRC is required to be a major actor in the eradication of the overreaching climate of impunity and in the shaping of strong safeguards for the protection and promotion of human rights in
The AHRC therefore calls upon the government to refrain from any action undermining the independence of the NHRC's investigation, in respect of its international and national legal obligations. Furthermore, the AHRC recalls the unalienable right of victims of human rights violations and their families to have the truth revealed about the circumstances of the violations and to be provided with adequate legal remedy. We therefore urge the government to acknowledge its prime responsibility to protect those rights and to abandon its impunity-fostering endeavour to focus on the core aspirations of its people for accountability, justice and security.