(London) -- Nepal saw new setbacks in efforts to end impunity for perpetrators of wartime abuses over the last year, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014. The newly elected Constituent Assembly should take immediate steps to implement the 2006 peace agreement and to provide justice for victims of serious human rights violations during the civil war.
The three-year political deadlock before the November 2013 elections for a new Constituent Assembly has stalled efforts to enact legislations or policies to ensure protection of rights, including reforms to flawed citizenship laws that have left 2.1 million people effectively stateless.
“Ensuring justice for conflict-related abuses should be a top priority for the new Nepali government,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “To show that they are serious about holding perpetrators to account, the authorities should comply with court orders requiring investigations and prosecutions of wartime cases, and amend the flawed ‘truth and reconciliation’ law.”
In the 667-page World Report 2014, its 24th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Syria’s widespread killings of civilians elicited horror but few steps by world leaders to stop it, Human Rights Watch said. A reinvigorated doctrine of “responsibility to protect” seems to have prevented some mass atrocities in Africa. Majorities in power in Egypt and other countries have suppressed dissent and minority rights. And Edward Snowden’s revelations about US surveillance programs reverberated around the globe.
In March, a Truth, Reconciliation, and Disappearance bill to investigate serious conflict-related violations was controversially signed into law by the president. The law failed to define which crimes are eligible for amnesty and which are excluded, giving commissioners potentially wide discretion to make determinations. As a result, some perpetrators of torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity could be granted amnesties in contravention of international law. The Supreme Court has since made a ruling that has had the effect of suspending the law.
In a positive move, in January the authorities in the UK arrested a Nepali army colonel suspected of torture during the civil war based on the principle of universal jurisdiction for torture.
The rape of a returning female migrant worker from Saudi Arabia in December 2012 by an airport police constable sparked widespread protests, and women’s rights groups demanded reforms in current laws dealing with gender-based violence. As part of this movement, women’s groups also sought a review of Nepal’s migration policies, including revocation of an August 2012 decree banning women under age 30 from traveling to Gulf countries for work. The ban was imposed to protect Nepali domestic workers from physical or sexual abuse, but rights groups fear that it will push women to migrate through informal channels and increase the risk of abuse.
In 2013, Nepali authorities continued to impose strict restrictions on Tibetans in Nepal, forbidding protests and gatherings. Human Rights Watch called for the Nepali authorities to respect the rights of Tibetans in Nepal to freedom of expression, assembly, and association