Nepal Monthly Update May 2014
The work of the second Constituent Assembly (CA) came into full swing during May. Subcommittees of the Constitutional Record, Study and Determination Committee (CRSDC—responsible for identifying the agreements and unresolved issues of the first CA) have submitted their reports on previously completed committee work. The CA plenary has begun debating these reports and has forwarded previously agreed and disputed issues to the Constitution Draft Committee (CDC) and Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (CPDCC—responsible for settling disputed issues) as appropriate. These in turn have established subcommittees to begin drafting work and negotiate outstanding matters. Debate on the most challenging questions, including state restructuring (federalism) and forms of government, has begun in the CA plenary and will be entered into in depth by these committees in the coming weeks. It is noteworthy that past agreements and differences have been identified by cross-party consensus without significant controversy so far. Meanwhile, there was contention over the recent nomination of Supreme Court judges, some of whose suitability was questioned by Legislature-Parliament (LP) members. However all eight nominees were ultimately confirmed by the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee.
The Act on Commissions on Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation 2071 (2014), which was passed by the LP on 25 April, with support from all three major parties, was signed into law by President Yadav on 11 May. There was widespread disquiet, especially among some conflict victims and human rights activists, over some provisions of the Act. After considering their response for a number of weeks, a group of 230 conflict victims has filed a writ in the Supreme Court challenging several provisions, including those relating to amnesty of grave human rights violations and ‗forced reconciliation‘. This is the second time that the conflict victims have sought judicial intervention from the Supreme Court for amendment of legal provisions for amnesty, prosecution, reparations and the implementation of the 2 January 2014 Supreme Court verdict. Grave human rights abuses were committed by all parties to the conflict and the post-conflict political context remains a complicated one in which to pursue the international transitional justice standards of providing justice, truth and reconciliation. Establishing transitional justice mechanisms is a core commitment of the peace process. Progress on other peace process tasks, especially constitution drafting, is in effect tied politically to the successful implementation of a credible transitional justice process.
There is also discussion among political parties regarding compliance of the Act with the Interim Constitution.
According to the Section 3.2 of the Act, a former Supreme Court judge is required to be in the committee which recommends appointment of the commissioners for the Commission; however, the Interim Constitution (Article 106.2) does not allow retried Supreme Court judges to be appointed in any government service other than chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission. The three major political parties are discussing solutions to this by amending the Interim Constitution and not the Act for fear that any proposal for amendments may open proposal for further amendments to the Act (during the debate of the original bill, there were 118 amendment proposals made by the members of the LP that were later withdrawn by parties).
On 27 May, the RC attended the NHRC 14th Anniversary where, whilst speaking about the TRC he stated, ―We welcome the Government of Nepal‘s continued commitments and efforts to meet the aspirations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. As part of the CPA, the recent adoption of the Act on the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions marks a very important step in beginning to look and deal with some of the things that happened in the past. At the same time I echo the comments of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay when she calls ‗on the Government to respect international law and to fully implement the decision of the Supreme Court.‘‖
There were no major operational space issues reported by Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs) signatories during the month of April in any region. Overall, BOGs signatories have not reported any significant operational space issues since the election period during November 2013. Although there were several transportation strikes enforced by different groups at different locations and dates in Eastern Region districts, none affected the regular operation of BOGs signatories except on 25 May when INGOs imposed self-restrictions on vehicle movement