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Nepal govt-int'l rights body face-off over conflict report
Publication Date : 27-09-2012
The Geneva-based Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has once again asked the Nepal government to publish a crucial "conflict mapping report" archiving over 20,000 documents related to human rights violation s during the country's 10-year Maoist insurgency.
The UN body has been mounting pressure on the government to validate the report, which has been shelved for over a year now. The report was supposed to be released in Kathmandu last year, but the government decided not to extend OHCHR-Nepal's term and mandate beyond June, effectively halting the report's publication.
The government has rejected the report in no uncertain terms, both in Geneva and Kathmandu, raising questions over sources of information obtained by the panel that prepared the report, as no government agencies were involved in its preparation. The government also raised serious objections to the OHCHR "crossing its mandate" while preparing the report.
In a meeting with Officiating Foreign Secretary Ambika Luitel at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) yesterday, visiting Chief of the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa branch of the OHCHR , Hanny Megally, made it clear that the publicaton of the report would definitely help Nepal's ongoing transitional justice processes, including the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances.
This is the first time the government and OHCHR officials held face-to-face discussions on the report. Subsequently, the Nepali mission in Geneva and OHCHR officials will now discuss the issue and take a call on whether the report will be published, and if so when and how.
Prepared by a team of international experts, the 300-page conflict report profiles over 2,000 serious "human rights and international humanitarian law violations" by the Maoists and security forces during the 1996-2006 insurgency.
The OHCHR claims that the unpublished report, prepared last year from OHCHR -Nepal's files and records compiled from extensive field monitoring by a team of international and national experts, will assist in the pursuit of truth, help end impunity and establish appropriate reparations for victims.
The report has identified and systematically categorised existing documented allegations of serious human rights and international humanitarian law violations. The cases have been categorised as unlawful killings, torture, disappearances and sexual violence. The report has identified patterns and trends of violations and contains analyses of the cases alongside relevant international standards, the UN body says.
Cases that have never been investigated or prosecuted will also be brought to the attention of the transitional justice mechanisms, further assisting Nepal's post-conflict transition.
Megally told government officials that the OHCHR is all set to publish the report and post it in its entirety on the OHCHR website.
"However, we rejected the report and told them [the OHCHR] that we will not own up to the report at a time when the peace process is in its final stages," an official who attended the meeting said. "What is the hurry? We asked them to take their time," the official added.
Megally assured all present that he would convey Nepali concerns to Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Before Megally arrived in Kathmandu for the meeting, the OHCHR had forwarded a 27-page executive summary of the report to the government for consideration. This had prompted officials to form a team comprising representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs, home, law and justice and peace and reconstruction to defend the government's position.
The Conflict Mapping initiative that prepared the report is a component of the OHCHR's year-long Peace Through Justice Project, funded by the UN Peace Building Fund, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland and others. PTJ received 160 million rupees (US$1.87 million) from multiple donors for the project in 2009.