Nepal: Human rights excluded from the political sphere
Legislative elections will be held on 26 November and 7 December this year in the small Himalayan republic. Unfortunately, for the time being, no political party has chosen to address the subject of transitional justice in its election campaign.
These elections are promising, however, because they are the first legislative elections since a Constituent Assembly was created in 2015, seven years after the monarchy was abolished.
Prosecute past crimes to stop future ones
Nepali transitional justice mechanisms that have emerged after nine years of heated discussions are a step forward, but their scope is still insufficient.
Indeed, hundreds of civil war victims and their loved ones are still waiting for compensation. More than 3,000 minors were forcibly recruited during the conflict and have since struggled to reintegrate into society.
Moreover, few victims are aware of their rights and the possibility to take their complaints to the United Nations if the local justice system fails them. This lack of information also contributes to the almost total impunity those responsible enjoy to this day.
Furthermore, human rights violations such as torture and arbitrary detentions did not disappear after the conflict ended: cases of abuse continue to be reported. Victims often come from less privileged backgrounds. The story of Bholi Pharaka illustrates this disheartening situation.
Towards a fairer society
Improving the population’s living conditions is achieved through transitional justice and respecting human rights in general. These rights should no longer be missing from political debates.
“Victims of human rights violations must find their place back in Nepali society,” insists Lucie Canal, interim Head of TRIAL International’s Nepal program. “To this end, the local judicial system must get rid of its inertia and make itself more accessible to victims.”
For more than a decade, Nepali and international civil society has fought against impunity in Nepal. It is now time for politicians to put their shoulder to the wheel.