Nepal: Deliver justice for "disappeared"

The failure of the Nepali authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of five men more than a decade ago is symptomatic of their wilful inaction in such cases, Amnesty International said ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August.

More than 1,300 people are thought to have disappeared during the armed conflict in Nepal between 1996 and 2006. To date, not a single person suspected of criminal responsibility for serious human rights violations or crimes under international law committed during the conflict has been brought to justice in a criminal court.

“The Nepali authorities need to end the excuses and instead deliver justice for the victims and families of the disappeared,” said Richard Bennett, Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

Every year on the International Day of the Disappeared victims’ families in Nepal gather to demand that Nepal’s government reveal the fate and whereabouts of victims of enforced disappearance and prosecute those suspected of committing them.

Forensic and DNA analysis completed earlier this year identified remains exhumed from gravesites near Janakpur, Danusha District as those of five men that were disappeared by security forces in 2003.

The analysis found that the “Dhanusha Five” had been blindfolded, shot at close range and buried. Ballistic analysis confirmed that bullets found at the burial site corresponded with ammunition only used by the Nepal Army at the time.

Sanjeev Kumar Karna and a group of ten friends were beaten and arrested by a group of army and police personnel while on a picnic in Janakpur on 8 October 2003. Five of these young people, including Sanjeev Kumar Karna, were never seen alive again by their families. 

In July 2014, more than decade after the murders, Nepali authorities returned the remains to surviving family members. Despite the forensic evidence that the five youths were victims of extrajudicial execution, suspects - including high ranking police and military personnel - remain free, some in positions of authority. Police investigations into the case appear to have stalled.

Sanjeev’s father, Jai Kishore Labh, dedicated the remainder of his life to seeking truth and justice for his missing son and his friends. He died in 2010 without an answer.
Last week, an Amnesty International delegation met with surviving parents of the “Dhanusha Five” who reiterated their calls for justice.

“There must be no whitewash when it comes to investigating and bringing to justice those responsible for the disappearance and killing of these five men,” said Richard Bennett.

“The authorities are dragging their feet on these investigations. It seems they appear content to push this case and others like it  to the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Act, which was passed by Nepal’s parliament in April established two commissions, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons (CIDP).  It is appropriate that the CIDP, once operational would investigate this important case, but that process should not hold up the criminal justice procedure

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission law, which remains under review by the Supreme Court, does not meet Nepal’s obligations to provide remedies, including full and effective reparation, to victims.

As it stands, the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be deeply flawed particularly as it would have the power to grant amnesties to those suspected of committing crimes under international law. This could include those responsible for the “Dhanusha Five” enforced disappearances.

“These cases must be independently investigated and those responsible brought to justice. There is ample evidence in the “Dhanusha Five” case for it to proceed to a criminal investigation and prompt prosecution of suspects in fair trials,” said Richard Bennett.

Enforced disappearances involve multiple violations of the human rights of both the individuals disappeared and their families. Amnesty International urges the government of Nepal to:
  • Conduct prompt, thorough and effective investigations into the “Dhanusha Five” case and all other cases of enforced disappearance and other crimes under international law committed in Nepal between 1996 and 2006, including, respecting court orders to do so.
  • Establish an effective commission of inquiry into enforced disappearances without further delay, to establish the fate and the whereabouts of the victims and inform their families who have a right to truth.
  • Where sufficient admissible evidence exists, prosecute those suspected of committing enforced disappearances and other crimes under international law in fair trials.
  • Define and criminalize enforced disappearances and other crimes under international law – including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and extrajudicial killings - in domestic law in line with international standards.
  • Remove barriers to justice. In particular, ensure that amnesties are prohibited for crimes under international law and that no time limits are imposed for their prosecution of such crimes.
  • Provide full and effective reparation to victims of enforced disappearance and their families to address the harm they have suffered.
  • Promptly establish the TRC, in full accordance with international standards and without any power to grant amnesties to persons suspected of crimes under international law
Promptly accede to and implement into national law: 
  • The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. In doing so, recognize the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of victims,;
  • The Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity;
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

"Your king is a liar," British ambassador Bloomfield told Rookmangud Katawal

Former army chief Rookmangud Katawal tells all in his soon to be released memoir.

Two crucial translated sections from Rookmangud Katawal’s memoir :

April 2006

“Your king is a liar,” British ambassador Bloomfield told me one day.

I could not accept such things being said about our head of state and supreme commander. I shot back: “How could you ever say that about my king?”

Bloomfield repeated even more tersely: “He is not fit to be king.”

The exchange went on for a while, but I could not convince the ambassador. None of the Kathmandu-based envoys were for an active monarchy, so they were not welcome in the palace.

But the people surrounding King Gyanendra, and those who were using his power, did not warn the King that he was losing international support. At a time when he should have been showing some flexibility, the King had become more rigid.

I tried to convince the Chief several times to take the message to the King that he should meet the NC and UML, which still had popular support. He never replied.

3 May 2009
“We are not going to surrender. No way” I told President Ram Baran Yadav’s adviser. “I don’t want to do anything unpleasant myself. My legitimacy finishes by 12 midnight.”

At about 11PM, the President called.

“Do I have to put it in writing?” The President asked. “Can’t I not write it?”

I replied: “If it is not in writing, there will be a question of legitimacy. A letter would resolve the issue.”

By then, KP Oli had got to the palace despite his health problems, and called to say the President had decided to send the letter and to inform all the generals.

A few minutes later, the fax arrived, reinstating the Chief of Army Staff. It was a clear and direct letter, just as we wanted. Soon after, my mobile and all the landlines started ringing off the hook.

The needle on my watch approached midnight. But I wasn’t sleepy, I went out to meet my soldiers outside.
[From: link]

Ex Registrar at Supreme court of Nepal Ram Krishna Timilsena and corruption case at judiciary

KATHMANDU, 2012 MAR 02 -

The Supreme Court (SC) hushed up a seven-month old letter from the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) that sought an investigation into alleged abuse of authority by former apex court Registrar Ram Krishna Timilsena, it has been revealed.

Responding to a complaint filed by SC employees on May 29, 2011, the anti-graft body had on July 12, 2011 issued the letter (Ref No 1219) to the SC asking it to investigate the allegations. The SC, however, has no record of the CIAA letter.

The case came to light only a couple of days ago when the staffers who had lodged the complaint approached the Post and revealed the documents.

The SC employees said the CIAA letter may have been dumped, immediately after it reached the registrar’s office. Generally, important letters addressed to the apex court first reach the registrar’s table before they are registered and processed.

The employees had complained that the registrar was involved

in a number of irregularities, including while procuring computers and vehicles and transferring staffers in breach of the law. Another equally serious charge includes the appointment of his cousin by the same surname as the chief of the IT department based on his “fake” education certificates.

CIAA officials say that since it is a case concerning the judiciary, which is outside their jurisdiction, they had redirected it back to the court and asked it to carry out an internal probe. “We can only ask the court to investigate the case,” said CIAA Spokesman Ishwori Paudyal.

Former Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha admitted there had been complaints. “When I received a complaint that one of the [temporary] staffers had been appointed on the basis of fake certificates, I called and asked him to submit his original certificates. He, however, immediately resigned,” Shrestha told the Post.

Timilsena, however, refuted the allegations. “He worked in the SC for around 10 to 11 months as a staff on a contract basis and for about one-and-a-half years as consultant. His certificates were not fake,” Timilsena said, when asked to comment on the complaints.

The staffers who complained at the CIAA argued that the case cannot be hushed up even if the staff and officials in questions have retired or resigned. “At a time when the apex court has been hearing corruption cases with priority, it is all the more important to clear the internal mess, small or big,” said a court official.

Asked about the case, Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi said he was unaware of it and that he will look into it. “I cannot say anything right away as I am not aware of it. It seems to be an issue of the past,” Regmi told the Post.

Posted on: 2012-03-03 09:14 at (The Kathmandu Post online) 

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