-  Saturday 15 August 2020

    Nepal starts work on 'truth and reconciliation' rights panel

     -  AFP

    July 27 2007 - Nepal has started setting up a South Africa-style truth commission to tackle rights abuses during a bloody civil war, officials said, as the UN warned offenders could go unpunished.

    The rights panel, which will allow those behind atrocities to confess without fear of punishment, was part of a deal last year between the government and Maoist insurgents to end the decade-long war that killed thousands.

    "The commission will not be a body for prosecution," said Madhu Prasad Regmi, one of the officials drawing up legislation that was presented to the government this week.

    "It will only record the past misdeeds of human rights abuses by the Maoists and the state authorities during the conflict," he said.

    "It will then be up to the government to decide what kind of action may or may not be taken."

    Both the Maoists and government security services committed serious human rights abuses during the war, including disappearances, rape and torture.

    Of the 13,000 people killed during the conflict, around half were killed by the former rebels and half by the police and army.

    Rebel leaders last year ended their conflict, placed their weapons under UN supervision and entered mainstream politics in a landmark deal with the main political parties.

    The United Nations immediately repeated Friday its deep reservations about the impoverished Himalayan nation's plans on how to deal with its bloody past.

    "The Office of the (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has serious concerns about a number of provisions in the Truth and Reconciliation Bill," said Sandra Beidas, the officer in charge of OHCHR Nepal.

    "It is currently completing an analysis of the draft act and will submit detailed comment to the peace ministry shortly," Beidas said, adding that the UN had already spelled out its concerns.

    The UN's top rights official, Louise Arbour, said during a visit in January that "a truth commission is not a substitute for prosecutions."

    She said three processes, truth-telling, reparations and prosecutions, were needed in order to assist the transition from war to peace.

    "While the first two (truth-telling and reparations) are acknowledged in the peace accord, the third is not, but equally essential," Arbour added.

    A leading local human rights group, however, greeted the news that some progress was being made on the issue.

    "The formation of a truth and reconciliation commission is important for institutionalising peace," said Kundan Aryal, head of the Informal Sector Service Centre.

    "It (the commission) will also be an important step for holding the constituent assembly elections in a free and fair manner," Aryal said, referring to the crucial polls planned for November that will elect a body to rewrite the country's constitution.

    Nepal's 330-seat parliament, which now contains 83 Maoist lawmakers, is set to discuss the mandate of the commission early next month.

    South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission was established after the end of apartheid and allowed victims of violence to give evidence, before it presented a report that condemned all sides for committing atrocities.

    Source : AFP
    © FRANCE NEPAL info

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