Nepal Supreme Court rejects amnesty for war crimes

Nepal Supreme Court rejects amnesty for war crimes

[JURIST] Nepal’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights abuses during the decade-long civil war that left more than 17,000 dead. The court struck down [Reuters report] the amnesty provision from the law and said the consent of the victims is necessary for any reconciliation. The law was introduced last year to set up reconciliation commissions that could grant amnesty to those responsible for serious human rights violations. It was widely condemned as a way to protect perpetrators, many of whom still occupy powerful military and political positions. The Supreme Court issued the order in response to a petition filed by more than 200 victims that challenged the discretionary power given to commissions.

Nepal’s treatment of human rights issues has been a controversial topic in the wake of the civil war [Insight on Conflict backgrounder] that ended eight years ago and left more than 13,000 dead. Government forces and Maoist rebels were both accused of war crimes, unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, rape and torture. Earlier this month Nepal created [JURIST report] two commissions to investigate allegations of these war crimes. Last April Nepalese lawmakers passed legislation [JURIST report] that could grant amnesty to former Maoist rebels and security forces accused of committing various war crimes, including torture and murder, during the nation’s civil war. Earlier that month, several human rights groups urged [JURIST report] the Nepalese government to reject the aforementioned amnesty legislation, stating that it would contravene international law based on its inclusion of certain amnesty provisions carried over from a former executive order granting blanket amnesty. Last January UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] praised the Nepalese Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] refusing amnesty for serious human rights violations committed during the civil war.