Incident Reports

No support to TRC, CIEDP on present status: UN OHCHR


Bagmati, Kathmandu, Kathmandu

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has warned that the UN is unable to provide support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Person (CIEDP) in Nepal on their present status. OHCHR, issuing a note on Wednesday, made clear its position that the UN is unable to provide support for these institutions in the absence of steps by the government of Nepal to ensure that the enabling law and procedures of the CIEDP and TRC are in compliance with its international legal obligations. "OHCHR encourages the government of Nepal to amend the Act on CIEDP and TRC so that it is fully consistent with Nepal's obligations under international law. This step is essential for the United Nations to consider supporting the work of the two commissions," stated OHCHR in the 11-point note made available on its website. Mentioning the technical note it had issued in June 2014, OHCHR has reminded Nepal again to ensure compliance with international laws and standards on transitional justice issues. "The provisions in the Act that give the commissions powers to recommend amnesties for gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law fail to comply with Nepal's international legal obligations, and are also inconsistent with the United Nations policy on amnesties," the UN body reiterated. OHCHR has stated that it is concerned that the powers granted to the commissions under sections 13 and 29 of the Act could result in the avoidance or delay of criminal investigations and prosecutions, which would be inconsistent with international law. Section 13 deals with the functions, duties and powers of the commissions while section 29 deals with provisions relating to the filing of cases. "Truth-seeking does not absolve States of their legal obligations with regard to criminal justice. The commission must not be used to avoid or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions, which should be reinforced or completed, not replaced, by a truth commission," argued OHCHR. OHCHR has categorically mentioned that the Act does not contain provisions to ensure the independence and impartiality of the commissioners or of the operation of the two commissions and that the provisions concerning reparations should specify that victims have the right to reparation and that full and effective reparations include not only restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, but also measures of satisfaction and guarantees of non-recurrence. Likewise, OHCHR has said that terms such as 'serious violation of human rights', 'act of disappearing a person' and 'reparations' used in the Act are not clearly defined and are used inconsistently. "OHCHR notes that no legislative or administrative action has been taken to reflect the decision of the Supreme Court in the enabling law or procedures of the commissions," stated the UN body. The Supreme Court on February 26, 2015, had ruled in favour of 234 victims of the conflict era, stating that any provisions of the Act that serve to compromise the judicial role in delivering justice for criminal acts are invalid, including the power to grant amnesties and powers to divert such cases from the courts. In the first week of February, CIEDP Commissioner Bishnu Pathak had sent an email to UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, arguing that the commission team was saddened at lack of cooperation and assistance by the UN.