Former security personnel of Nepal write to the UN rapporteurs over TRC bill

The organization of the families of security personnel who were the victims of the armed conflict has asked for provisions to address incidents involving unarmed and non-uniformed security personnel who were killed or injured during the conflict.

NL Today

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Former Security Personnel Council of Nepal, an organization of the families of security personnel who were victims during the armed conflict in Nepal, has written to the UN rapporteurs expressing reservations over the Bill to Amend the Commission on the Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act. In the letter addressed to Fabian Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence at United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner and Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution at OHCHR-UNOG, the Council has said that the proposed amendment on TRC Bill fails to address violations relating to security personnel who were killed brutally in unarmed and non-uniformed conditions, as well as the issue of child soldiers. 

“Neither the existing Act nor the proposed TRC Bill incorporates provisions to address incidents involving unarmed and non-uniformed security personnel who were killed or injured during the armed conflict,” the letter signed by KB Raut, the Chairperson of Former Security Personnel Council Nepal reads. “These personnel were often on leave, caring for their parents in health institutions, or performing death rituals for their parents when they were killed. Additionally, there are cases where security personnel were captured in unarmed and non-uniformed conditions while on leave, and brutally killed. Instances of security personnel being assassinated in the presence of their family members have also taken place, even during festive celebrations,” says the letter. 

The letter mentions the injustice meted out on the security personnel during the armed conflict of 1996-2006. “Security personnel engaged in rural development work were sometimes captured, subjected to brutal torture, and killed in a terrifying manner where body parts were severed one by one. While these security personnel were actively dedicated to ensuring the safety of citizens, public assets, and government property, their families were forced into pressuring them to resign from their jobs,” the letter further states. “These personnel endured various forms of unbearable mental torture, had their properties confiscated, and were extorted for donations. Families of those who refused to donate often faced terrible consequences, including threats, killings, or forced displacement from their homes.”

Former Security Personnel Council of Nepal has said that this brutal activity constitutes a grave violation of humanitarian law and runs counter to UN human rights standards, amounting to a crime against humanity. “These concerns must be addressed within the framework of this TRC Bill,” the Council has demanded. The letter mentions that the review and recommendations by UN rapporteurs do not elaborate on the inclusion of provisions for security personnel who were killed while unarmed and not in uniform. The proposed Bill’s definition does not encompass the arbitrary killing of unarmed and non-uniformed security personnel, the letter states.

The letter mentions that the families of security personnel who were brutally killed during the armed conflict have submitted around 5000 applications to Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). But these complaints have not been investigated. “All of these complaints are poised to be dismissed following the proposed amendment to the TRC Act. Consequently, we will be left with no recourse for justice. If the TRC nullifies these complaints due to the absence of legal provisions, our 5000 victim families will once again suffer mental trauma without receiving justice.”

While mentioning that former Maoist rebels received reparations and the victims from the rebels’ side also got relief funds and thousands of them were integrated into the Nepal Army, the letter says that there has been no victim-centric approach thus far in case of the victims from security personnel and neither social nor reparation costs have been provided to them. “The families of the victimized deceased security personnel and the injured security personnel are still in distress. Unfortunately, the window for justice is closing permanently due to this amendment. This discrepancy between living insurgents and deceased unarmed security personnel and their surviving families is evident.”

The Former Security Personnel Council of Nepal has asked the UN to stand for equality before the law.  They have demanded the inclusion of a provision regarding unarmed and non-uniformed security personnel in the definition and other relevant clauses of the upcoming amendment. “This will enable us to seek justice through TRC and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) Nepal,” the letter says.

The letter says that the government’s claim that it has held extensive consultations prior to drafting the bill is entirely false. “The parliamentary committee and the government itself selectively invite individuals for consultation who align with their Maoist political ideology. This fundamental bias is a significant factor contributing to the repeated failures of transitional justice-related legislation, and the appointment of political figures to transitional justice mechanisms further undermines the effectiveness of the TRC in Nepal,” says the letter. “We trust that you will duly take note of these concerns.”