Nepal fails to make progress towards delivering truth, justice and reparations to victims of Maoist conflict: Amnesty

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Amnesty International (AI) – an international human rights group—has said that the government of Nepal has failed to make significant progress towards delivering truth, justice and reparations to the tens of thousands of victims of crimes under international law and other grave human rights violations committed by both sides during the 1996-2006 conflict.

In its annual ‘State of the World Human Rights Report 2023’ made public this week, the rights group said that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, which had respectively collected more than 60,000 and 3,000 complaints from victims, failed to resolve a single case in 2023.

In March, the government presented to parliament a Bill for the Amendment of the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act (2014) without adequately consulting conflict victims. The Bill failed to comply with a 2015 Supreme Court ruling to bring it in line with domestic and international human rights standards and appeared to shield alleged perpetrators from prosecution for some crimes under international law.  At the end of the year, the Bill remained pending at the lower house.

Amid widespread concerns about government misuse of amnesty provisions to arbitrarily release ruling party affiliates, in November the Supreme Court overturned a Presidential amnesty to a man convicted of murder, ruling the necessity of consent by victims’ families, the report said.

Use of Excessive Force

Security forces continued to use unnecessary and excessive force in 2023 to disperse and detain protesters, resulting in four deaths. Authorities banned TikTok and carried out arrests to limit freedom of expression. Gender-based discrimination continued in law and practice. The marriage of an LGBTI couple was registered for the first time. Migrant workers were subjected to abusive and illegal recruitment practices.

Security forces continued to detain activists and individuals criticizing the government and ruling party politicians, and frequently resorted to unlawful force against protesters, the report said.

In February 2023, five protesters demanding justice for sexual violence cases were detained by police. In March, Padam Limbu died after being hit during a baton charge by police at a protest by Indigenous Peoples in Morang district. The government later declared him “a martyr”, pledging relief support to his family.

The authorities continued to crack down on protests by victims of loan sharks, mostly low-income farmers who gathered in the capital, Kathmandu, calling for justice for financial crimes. In April, at least 40 protesters were injured by police using batons and water cannons and at least 20 were detained. Days later, the Home Minister apologized for the excessive use of force by police.

In May 2023, police detained and ill-treated two journalists in Kanchanpur district who had been reporting on a clash involving police. Following condemnation by the journalists’ federation, the district police chief committed to punish the officers responsible.

“The government failed to adequately monitor, investigate and sanction the illegal activities of recruitment agencies and agents that charge migrant workers exorbitant fees. Effective measures to prevent, investigate and clarify the deaths of migrant workers, such as through bilateral dialogues with the governments of destination countries, were not taken. Difficulties in accessing the Workers Welfare Fund left many families of deceased migrant workers without support,” the report said.