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UN demands action on war crimes

Government told to stop dragging its feet reporter, Kathmandu

October 9, 2012

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A UN report has called on the government to stop dragging its feet and investigate rights violations committed by both sides during the country’s 10-year civil war. “The transitional justice mechanisms promised in the peace accords have still not been established, and successive governments have withdrawn cases,” UN human rights chief Navi Pillay wrote in the introduction to the 233-page Nepal Conflict Report, released yesterday. “Perpetrators of serious violations on both sides have not been held accountable, in some cases have been promoted, and may now even be offered an amnesty,” Pillay wrote. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva expressed grave concern about attempts by successive governments to abandon cases. “The granting of amnesties for certain crimes, particularly genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, contravenes principles under international law,” the report said. It also estimated at least 9,000 grave violations of international human rights or international humanitarian law may have occurred during the conflict between the government and Maoist rebels which ended in 2006, but not a single person has ever been prosecuted. The OHCHR reiterated its concern over accountability by pointing to the recent promotion of Colonel Raju Basnet, despite the soldier being heavily implicated in alleged arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances. The Nepalese government condemned the report, refuting its contents. Hours earlier Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha met with diplomats from several European countries, telling them the report’s content “was inappropriate” and was being “released at an inopportune time,” The Himalayan Times quoted a highly placed source as saying. According to the source Shrestha asked the diplomats if the report could be stopped but they told him it could not. Human rights activists welcomed the findings. “The report reinforces the truth that the rights situation in Nepal is now at zero," said Dr Kali Bahadur Rokkaya, a prominent member of Nepal’s Human Rights Commission. “All of the political parties are fighting for power and are not honest or committed to human rights at all,” he told “Theoretically Nepal has one of the most powerful Human Rights National Commissions in the world as it has been granted a constitutional status…. However it is in a mess and has become ineffective due to internal wrangling." Related reports Government backs anti-torture bill
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