Interim Election Government Chairman Khil Raj Regmi has told the Supreme Court that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) cannot pardon perpetrators of serious war-era crimes unless s/he confesses to them and apologises with the victims.
Furnishing a written reply on May 8 to the court in response to its show-cause order concerning the TRC ordinance, Regmi states that upon such confession the Commission can recommend pardon by bringing up substantial basis. The court has stayed the implementation of the ordinance. Two separate writ petitions were filed in the apex court on March 24, challenging the ordinance. Advocates Madhav Basnet and Bishnu Pokharel took issue with Section 23 (2) of the ordinance, which reads—“Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub Section (1), on serious human rights violation cases, including rape, which lack sufficient reasons and grounds for granting amnesty following the investigation of the Commission, it shall not recommend amnesty.”
The plaintiffs maintained that even this provision is flawed, given that the ordinance does not clearly state which crime, other than rape, would qualify for prosecution. The petitioners have sought court orders to formulate laws as per the previous order of the court on transitional justice until war crimes and crimes against humanity are not declared criminal offences and provisions for punishment are not in place. A group of conflict victims had also moved the court, demanding nullification of certain provisions in the ordinance, in addition to demanding the formation of an ‘independent’ TRC.
They have also sought the formation of another committee within three months, comprising human rights activists and government officials, to hold consultations with victims to ensure justice.
Regmi has told the court that the petitioners have failed to clarify how the definition or type of crimes termed as serious in the ordinance don’t meet international standards. Regmi maintains that since Nepal is party to a host of international conventions and treaties concerning torture and enforced disappearances which don’t allow blanket amnesty, it is the duty of the Nepali state to uphold those conventions.
Regmi also states that forming separate commissions concerning truth and reconciliation and on enforced disappearance is not subject to constitutional and legal questions. However, an apex court verdict some years ago said such commissions should be separate. Also, Article 33 of the Interim Constitution envisions that separate commissions are formed. Hearing on the petitions is scheduled for May 30.
Posted on: 2013-05-15 09:33