Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [advocacy websites] on Monday urged Nepal to reject blanket amnesty [press release] plans for international crimes committed during the country's civil war, which ended in 2006. A representative for ICJ said amnesty for human rights abuses, such as torture, rape and forced disappearances, violate international law and Nepal's own jurisprudence. The Nepal Parliament [official website] is setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate war crimes and is currently debating a proposal to grant amnesty [AFP report] to government officials and rebel forces. Some lawmakers believe that granting amnesty power to the commission may facilitate the finding of truth in exchange for the possibility of not facing charges. HRW director disagrees and believes that victims are entitled to both knowledge of what happened and an effective remedy for the crimes committed against them and their family. HRW and ICJ jointly called on the government to explicitly exclude the possibilities of amnesty for international crimes, possible human rights abuses and violations of international law. They also urged the commission to keep the process open to the public and scrutiny to ensure it represents the interests of the victims.
Last week, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang [official profile] spoke [JURIST report] to the Constituent Assembly of Nepal (CA) [official website] about several human rights issues in the country, including a reluctance to prosecute war crimes and insufficient progress increasing women's rights [texts, PDF]. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and HRW [JURIST reports] have both previously appealed to the government of Nepal [BBC backgrounder] to investigate human rights violations allegedly committed during the civil war. The decade-long Maoist guerrilla insurgency that left more than 13,000 people dead ended [JURIST report] in late 2006 when the Napalese government signed a peace agreement that established the CA. In November, the CA announced it will finish drafting a new constitution [JURIST report] within 18 months. Last May, the CA voted to abolish the monarchy [JURIST report], giving King Gyanendera 15 days to abandon his royal palace, which cleared the way for Maoists to serve in government. As part of the peace accord, the CA was elected [JURIST report] in April 2008, an organization dominated by members of the Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (CPN-M) [party website].