UN rights chief hails Nepal court for war crimes ruling

The UN human rights chief Thursday hailed Nepal`s top court for barring war crimes commissions from offering amnesty to soldiers and former Maoist rebels in cases involving serious rights abuses.

AFP| Updated: Mar 06, 2015, 20:41 PM IST

Kathmandu: The UN human rights chief Thursday hailed Nepal`s top court for barring war crimes commissions from offering amnesty to soldiers and former Maoist rebels in cases involving serious rights abuses.

Nepal is in the process of setting up two bodies to investigate war crimes committed during a decade-long insurgency, which saw security forces and Maoist guerrillas accused of carrying out torture, killings, rape and "forced disappearances".

Parliament last April gave the two commissions the power to grant amnesty for all crimes except rape, but last week`s Supreme Court ruling revoked that right after a mass petition filed by 234 victims. 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra`ad Al Hussein, praised the court "for upholding international standards relating to accountability for gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law".

"It is essential that the commissions adopt this victim-centred approach, as many victims have felt completely excluded from the process so far," Zeid said in a statement.

The ruling bars the offering of amnesty for serious rights abuses on any ground and requires victims to approve any move towards reconciliation.

The conflict between Maoist guerrillas and the state left more than 16,000 dead, with both sides agreeing to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission for Enforced Disappearances as part of a peace pact signed in 2006.

Although authorities has issued arrest warrants in several cases of human rights abuses committed during the war, only one verdict has been given in a case involving the murder of a journalist.

A colonel of the Nepal Army, who was arrested in January 2013 in Britain over allegations of torture committed during the war, is also facing trial in a British court.