As today is Blog Action Day 2013, and the theme this year is Human Rights, I thought it would be an appropriate time to write a piece about transitional justice in Nepal. All say Nepal is in political transition but none of them are clear how to end this transition. It seems political parties have not realized the gravity of human rights issues. The country which faced a decade long bloody war is yet to form an ‘independent and powerful’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Politicians and security forces, who were supposedly involved in war time crime, have been demanding blanket amnesty to all criminal cases. In this piece, I will focus on transitional justice and issue of disappearance in Nepal.
Nepal abolished the monarchy and become a federal democratic republic. In spite of the change in the political sphere, overall human rights situation in Nepal is yet to be improved. Political parties are far ahead in paying lip service to provide justice to victims. But they are reluctant to translate their words into action.
Communists waged war against the state when then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) openly declared that they do not follow parliamentarian system in 1996.
The ‘red revolution’ began with armed conflict, resulting in the death of more than 13,000 people in a decade — from 1996 to 2006. Besides, approximately 1,300 people were forcibly disappeared during a decade long armed conflict in this small Himalayan country.
The People’s Movement of April 2006 (also known as Jana Andolan 2) led to the reinstatement of parliament, and soon after the coalition government and the Maoists signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Two years later, Nepal abolished the monarchy and become a federal democratic republic.
In April 2006, then coalition government and the CPN (Maoist) signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was a significant step toward reconciliation. In CPA, both the government (seven parties alliance) and Maoist have agreed to adhere to the notion of accountability to which is basics of democracy.
But the issue of disappearance has not addressed so far.
The government tried to betray people by introducing an ordinance to set up toothless Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An executive ordinance for the establishment of an Investigation of Disappeared People, Truth and Reconciliation Commission was adopted in March 2013. According to human rights activities and victim families, the ordinate does not comply with international standards, particularly in relation to amnesties. The measure, which has been opposed by victims and other key stakeholders, is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court of Nepal.
National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Nepal claims that more than 1,400 people were forcibly disappeared during a decade long armed conflict while other some organizations claim the figure was around 1,300.
Whatever the number is, the pain faced by innocent people during war time should not let go unpunished. During the armed conflict, dozens of innocent and gullible citizens were detained, tortured, disappeared and killed.
Why those people were forced to e disappeared? No side is ready to give the answer of this question. Families of disappeared and missing have no voice in this country. Political parties are not ready to hear their demands ignoring the clause of CPA.
The human rights issues have been politicized. The state and political parties, in the name of democracy, have diverted the agenda of the disappearance movement.
In this context, progress towards achieving justice has largely stalled, despite the continued efforts of victims and human rights defenders in Nepal.
They have refused to eat anything until action is taken against those involved in the wartime crime is punished. Disappearance movement should not let go without tangible result. Democracy is all about accountability and people has right to live in the democracy. No one has right to breach Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948. While celebrating Blog Action Day 2013, I want to remember all those who went missing during a decade long bloody war in Nepal. I strongly urge Nepalese government to abide by international human rights treaties and ensure justice to disappearance movement. I also ask the government to remember a famous saying: Justice delayed is justice denied.