ANANATA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court today struck down Truth and Reconciliation Commission Ordinance and told the government to remove the provision of blanket amnesty from the Ordinance and make it comply with international standards.
Special bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha, Girish Chandra Lal and Sushila Karki issued the verdict stating that the provisions related to general amnesty, executive discretion to prosecute perpetrators of serious human rights cases and prosecution in other cases within 35 days of the incident did not meet international standards and the spirit of the Interim Constitution. The bench ordered the government authorities to review the provisions and issue a modified TRC Ordinance.
The apex court also directed the authorities to set up two separate commissions — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappearances.
It ordered the government to form a panel comprising a conflict expert, a victim representing all the victims, human rights law expert and other stakeholders to suggest what all should be included in the provision to grant amnesty.
On March 14, President had issued the ordinance but the apex court had stayed its implementation on April 1. Section 23 (4) of the ordinance had proposed to grant blanket amnesty to perpetrators of serious human rights violations, including rape, murder, disappearance and abduction.
Challenging the provisions, advocates Madhav Kumar Basnet, Bishnu Prasad Pokharel, and Chairman of the Social Justice Committee Ram Kumar Bhandari and Chairman of the Terrorist Victims’ Orphans’ Society Suman Adhikary had filed the writ.
Stating that Sections 25 and 29 of the ordinance added ambiguity — whether or not to take action against the perpetrators of human rights violations — the petitioners had asked the apex court to declare null and void the contradictory provisions that are against the rights of the victims. They claimed that these provisions were against Articles 12, 13(1) and 24(9) of the Interim Constitution.
The SC order is a blow to the UCPN-M, whose leaders had been advocating blanket amnesty for its leaders and cadres involved in cases of serious human rights violations during the 10-year insurgency.
However, rights activists and lawyers have welcomed the verdict, stating that this would address the rights of the conflict victims.
Nepal Bar Association Vice-President Tikaram Bhattarai opined that the government and the Parliament were now bound to bring a new bill as per the international standard and the spirit of the Interim Constitution.
Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairman of Informal Sector Service Centre said the verdict had set a precedent that crime cannot be protected under the political veil.
• The authorities told to set up separate commissions — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappearances
• Government ordered to form an expert panel to suggest what all should be included in the
provision to grant amnesty
What weighs against it
• The provision related to general amnesty
• Executive discretion to prosecute perpetrators of serious human rights cases
• The provision to prosecute perpetrators in other cases within 35 days of the incident