(New York) - Human Rights Watch and the Nepal-based Advocacy Forum said today in a letter to Nepal's Constituent Assembly that the government's proposed bill to criminalize enforced "disappearances" and to provide for an independent high-level commission to investigate cases occurring during Nepal's bloody civil war could be a step toward systematic impunity for human rights violations in Nepal.

"Disappearances were perhaps the worst aspect of a dirty and ugly war in Nepal," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Yet so far no one has been held accountable."

Human Rights Watch and Advocacy Forum urged the Assembly to scrutinize and debate the bill rigorously to ensure that it will create a system to hold perpetrators accountable and provide appropriate compensation to victims or their families. The letter proposes specific measures to improve the bill.

During the civil war, Nepal attained the sad distinction of having the largest number of new "disappearances" reported to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

"We welcome the disappearances bill, as it is a hopeful step on the road to accountability," said Mandira Sharma, director of Advocacy Forum. "But it needs to meet international standards to have a chance of success."