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Culture of impunity risks Nepal’s peace process, UN senior official warns

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United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, who recently visited to different troubled spots of Nepal from 30 January to 3 February, has expressed her concern on the need to end impunity. Nepal's landmark peace process and efforts towards democratic transition are at risk, she said, unless the government addresses serious human rights abuses committed during the decade-long insurgency in the nation.
(Bangkok) United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, who recently visited to different troubled spots of Nepal, has expressed her concern on the need to end impunity on 3 February. She said, "The consolidation of the peace process will continue to be at risk without political will on the part of the authorities to end this culture of impunity".

Referring to the visit by High Commissioner for Human Rights last year, she said that impunity remains unchecked in Nepal and not one perpetrator of the past or on-going human rights violations has been convicted. The High Commissioner had made a similar statement also after her visit.

An estimated 13,000 people were killed during the civil conflict that formally ended when the government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) signed a peace accord in 2006. The agreements between the parties include the establishment of a commission on disappearances and a commission on truth and reconciliation.

These are important measures “to bring out the truth, address the past, and also the underlying causes of the conflict with a view to ensuring that the violations of the past are not repeated”, she stressed. She stressed that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has to be established and put into operation in accordance with international standards to end the culture of impunity in Nepal. 

Kang also said that the security vacuum in the Terai plains had led to sectarian violence.   "Perpetrators can be identified but the victims have no confidence in the justice system after having experienced violence and displacement on multiple occasions", she said.

She pointed out that the law enforcement agencies need to represent the population and need to enforce the law firmly and impartially respecting human rights in order to gain the trust of the affected communities in Tarai.

Pointing out that ongoing impunity as well as a security vacuum due to weak law enforcement and criminal justice had led to an increase in violent actions, including killings and abductions by armed groups, Kang said, “These acts of violence only serve the interests of those seeking to disrupt the peace process and will make more difficult the holding of free and fair elections”.

The elections for the Assembly, which was supposed to draft a new constitution for Nepal, were originally scheduled to be held in June last year. However they were postponed because of continuing mistrust between the government and the Maoists.

In addition, the Deputy High Commissioner noted that discrimination based on caste, gender or ethnicity remains “entrenched” in Nepali society. She stressed the need to address the problem “or it will continue to place the peace process at risk”.

She, however, expressed satisfaction over some of the developments including in addressing the situation of marginalised groups and appointment of commissioners to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).