Despite opposition from the Nepal government, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday published a 233-page ‘Nepal Conflict Report’, documenting alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during Nepal’s decade-long civil-war. Simultaneously, the OHCHR, which had a field office in Nepal between 2005 and 2011, also released the Transitional Justice Reference Archive (TJRA), an extensive database of conflict-related cases and incidents.
The report says that credible basis exists to suspect Nepal’s security forces — Nepal Army (NA), Armed Police Force (APF), and Nepal Police (NP) — as well as the Maoist rebels of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, and sexual violence. The accompanying archive covers up to 9,000 cases of violations.
In a briefing to select journalists from Geneva, Hanny Megally, a senior OHCHR official, said they were releasing a powerful tool to enable Nepal kick-start its “stuttering and stalling transitional justice processes”. This could, he said, help address culpability for violations, provide a starting point to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) when it comes into existence, provide justice and restore trust and confidence in state institutions.
While the OHCHR had submitted an advance copy of the report to the Foreign Ministry last week, the government was reported to have objected to the proposed publication of the report, and said it could derail the peace process. In a meeting with European envoys and the U.N. representative in Nepal on Monday morning, Foreign Ministry officials are understood to have said that Nepal has made strides, and the international community must understand the constraints of the political situation.
Nepal is yet to form a TRC and Commission on Disappeared Persons. In the absence of a Parliament, the government has proposed an ordinance to set up a TRC, with provisions for blanket amnesty, but the move has drawn widespread criticism from Western countries, human rights activists, and victims on the grounds that amnesty for certain crimes contravened international law. In recent weeks, the government has promoted and appointed officials accused of serious human rights violations in security forces.