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Nepal president wants govt to meet int'l rights obligations
Publication Date : 18-01-2013
Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav yesterday said the government must secure the release of Nepal Army Col Kumar Lama from British custody by fulfilling its national and international human rights obligations.
The head of state made the statement after he held discussions with human rights lawyers on the legality of Col Lama's arrest in the UK and the flaws in the proposed Ordinance on the Commission of the Disappeared and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Recent incidents, including Lama's arrest and the reopening of investigations into the conflict-era murder of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa, have brought the human rights debate to the fore in the country.
During the discussions, President Yadav expressed “sadness” over Lama's arrest and said the government should deal amicably with the UK to secure his release.
"The president wants the government to deal with this case in such a way that it will not erode Nepal's diplomatic dignity," said the President's Legal Advisor, Surya Dhungel.
Lawyers Hari Phuyal, Raju Chapagai and Dinesh Tripathi explained to the President that the UK had arrested Lama on the basis of its legal obligations to the Convention Against Torture and its Criminal Justice Act 1988.
The lawyers said the government can secure Lama's extradition from the UK only if concrete steps are taken to assure the international community that serious human rights abuses committed during the Maoist insurgency will be prosecuted.
They suggested that the government enact laws to criminalise torture as per Nepal's commitment to the UN Convention Against Torture, investigate serious war crimes documented in the Nepal Conflict Report released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) last October and guarantee that the transitional justice mechanisms will meet international standards.
They also suggested that individuals against whom the judiciary had issued arrest warrants be jailed ahead of making any requests to the UK for Lama's release.
"We told the president that the British court should be satisfied with measures taken by Nepal to address impunity," said Phuyal.
The lawyers further suggested that President Yadav not endorse the proposed ordinance on the commission of the disappeared and the TRC, arguing that "more individuals can be arrested under universal jurisdiction if the flawed laws are introduced."
President Yadav said he will not introduce the proposed ordinance without cross-party consensus.
The president wants the TRC to meet international standards and uphold commitments made in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2006 and the Interim Constitution promulgated in 2007.
"The president is of the view that international obligations and universal standards should be met while forming a TRC," said Dhungel, adding that the government should take into account suggestions forwarded by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The national rights watchdog has opposed the ordinance endorsed by the Cabinet in August on the grounds that it intends to grant blanket amnesties to serious abuses committed during the decade-long conflict.