Activists hold an event in memory of people who were disappeared during Nepal’s decade-long civil war, Kathmandu, August 30, 2017.

© 2017 Reuters

(New York) – Nepal should strengthen amendments to the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act to comply with international standards, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the attorney general. Human Rights Watch noted that universal jurisdiction laws could otherwise lead to the arrest and prosecution of alleged perpetrators who travel abroad.

In June 2018, the attorney general, Agni Kharel, invited Human Rights Watch and other organizations to discuss transitional justice mechanisms for conflict-related violations during the 1996-2006 civil war. These include the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

“The draft amendments are a welcome step forward, but the law should be strengthened to fully address the demands for justice by conflict victims,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “This draft fails to address the many gaps in Nepali law that make it difficult to prosecute international crimes such as torture and crimes against humanity.”

The proposed amendments should fully incorporate recommendations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Nepal Supreme Court.

Human Rights Watch provided a detailed analysis of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which means that if a citizen of any country is suspected of international crimes, they can be prosecuted if they travel to a country that has authorized its courts to act. For example, the United Kingdom Crown Prosecution Service brought a case against Nepali Colonel Kumar Lama.

Human Rights Watch set out six benchmarks that would show Nepal is serious about holding to account those responsible for the worst crime. These include ratifying the treaties and joining the international bodies that promote international criminal justice, in particular the International Criminal Court, and adopting those standards in its domestic law.