Rights groups ask Nepal to scrap amnesty provision

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Associated Press

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 4:32 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 4:34 AM

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — International rights groups said Thursday that parts of a bill proposed by Nepal's government should be rejected because they might allow people who committed serious human rights violations during the country's Maoist insurgency to escape punishment.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists said in a statement that the provisions in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission bill would violate international law.

The bill would establish commissions to investigate crimes during the 1996-2006 communist insurgency, when more than 13,000 people were killed and hundreds more went missing, and punish the violators.

But rights activists, who have been demanding that such commissions be set up, say the bill contains vague language and many loopholes that could allow violators to escape punishment.

"The government's obligation is to ensure justice for the victims, not amnesty for the victimizers," said Brad Adams of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The conflict between government troops and Maoist rebels ended when the rebels signed a U.N.-monitored peace agreement.

Since then the Maoists have joined mainstream politics and their fighters have been integrated into the national army. They are now the third largest political party in parliament and have applied heavy pressure to stop cases from being filed against them for their actions during the insurgency. They maintain that events during the conflict are over since the peace agreement has been signed.

The rights groups also asked the government to ensure that offenses under international law such as crimes against humanity also be made criminal offenses under domestic law.

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