Countless human rights violations were committed during the armed conflict that ravaged Nepal between 1996 and 2006. In these dark years, both the Nepalese government forces and the Maoist rebels committed a multitude of crimes under international law, causing thousands of victims. According to estimates, nearly 17,000 people lost their lives and more than 1,300 people were the victims of enforced disappearance. Numerous cases of torture and sexual violence were also recorded. More worryingly still, these crimes remain widespread nowadays.
Over a decade after the end of the conflict, hundreds of victims and their relatives are still awaiting justice. The Nepalese judicial system remains passive and the perpetrators of international crimes enjoy almost complete impunity. Within such a context, it is hard to lay the foundations of the rule of law. Only by establishing the truth and ensuring that the victims obtain reparation will the process of reconciliation really begin and the notion of justice take its full meaning.
In addition to the atrocities, human rights violations remain widespread in Nepal. Torture and extrajudicial executions are common, yet the government does nothing to identify the culprits. In 2016, not a single author of international crimes had been judged.
Since 2009, TRIAL International intervenes in Nepal for victims of international crimes, both past and present.
Bringing justice to victims
At national level, the organization assists lawyers with their international crimes cases. They benefit from its expertise and, depending on the case, of a real capacity-building coaching.
But all to often, the authorities ignore the victims’ plights. TRIAL International therefore also victims of international crimes to submit their cases before international bodies, in particular to the UN Human Rights Committee and to Special Rapporteurs. In this pursuit of justice, the NGO remains by their side at each stage of the journey, offering them free legal assistance.
In Nepal, no perpetrator of abuse has yet been judged for international crimes committed during the armed conflict. The Nepalese government is not showing any will to act or to implement a true process of national reconciliation, which would involve the perpetrators of crime being brought to justice and reparations being awarded to their victims. To ensure that impunity is not the norm, TRIAL provides Nepalese lawyers with support to file criminal complaints against the perpetrators of such crimes.
Training human rights defenders
In collaboration with local actors, TRIAL International offers high-quality training to these key actors of Nepalese civil society. NGO representatives, journalists or lawyers, trained human rights defenders fight to ensure that the victims of the worst violations are no longer left to their own devices. The training offered is tailored to the needs of every target audience. Human rights defenders learn how to gather evidence as best they can when in contact with the victims. Journalists receive instruction on the workings of international justice so that they are better able to speak about them in their media. Finally, TRIAL International teaches lawyers how to use the mechanisms of international justice to put together and submit complaints on behalf of victims.
Advocating greater justice
In order to be long-lasting, the legal fight before the courts and other jurisdictions must go hand in hand with constant awareness-raising and lobbying work. Alongside its partners, TRIAL International puts pressure on the Nepalese authorities for them to apply judicial decisions handed down in favor of victims of serious crimes. Alongside NGO partners, the organization also keeps the international community informed of the serious violations that have taken place in the country so that it can take stock of what remains to be done.