Nepal

Nepal Monthly Update April 2014

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published

Attachments

This report is issued by the UN RCO with inputs from its UN Field Coordination Offices and other partners and sources. The report covers April 2014. The next report will be issued the first week of June 2014.

CONTEXT

Political update

The major political development during April, and an issue of major controversy, was the passage of a transitional justice (TJ) act through the Legislature-Parliament on 25 April. Establishing TJ mechanisms is a major outstanding peace process commitment and the legislation was jointly backed by all three major political parties, the Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). Under an amendment jointly tabled by the NC, CPN-UML and UCPN-M during drafting, cases recommended for prosecution by any Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will be tried by a special court—at the demand of the UCPN-M, armed-conflict related cases (including those already in the courts) could then only be tried by this special court. The law was cautiously welcomed by sections of the media and by some victims‟ associations. However, at the time of writing, the law was awaiting Presidential approval and the final text was not available. The previous draft bill was criticised by national and international human rights organizations, especially because it appeared to allow the TRC to grant amnesties to perpetrators of serious human rights violations. On 10 April, human rights and civil society activists publicly protested against the bill in Kathmandu, with some arrested and temporarily detained by the Nepal Police. Given the complexity and contention surrounding TJ and the experience of legal challenges to the previous TJ ordinance, this law may also be tested in the Supreme Court.

During acrimonious debate surrounding passage of the legislation, the UCPN-M particularly singled out one of its most outspoken critics, a political activist, columnist and media-owner, alleging in parliament that he was using donor funds to “derail the peace process”. No specific evidence was produced and the allegation was staunchly denied. However, this episode renewed ongoing debate on the vexed issue of international funding for civil society in Nepal, as well as external finance in the media.

Meanwhile, the constitution drafting process took an important step forward with the appointment of chairpersons to the five Constituent Assembly (CA) committees. The most powerful committee, responsible for forging political consensus, will be chaired by UCPN-M former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai. Former NC home minister and leading peace-process negotiator Krishna Sitaula will chair the drafting committee, while the former CPN-UML defence minister Bishnu Paudel will chair the committee responsible for identifying previous agreements. The two remaining committees will be chaired by Laxmi Chaudhari of the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal (MJF-N) and Pramila Rana of the Communist Party of Nepal (United). That these appointments were made by major-party consensus shows that the major parties continue to work together on peace process and constitutional issues. However, more than five months since the election, the 26 appointed members of the CA have yet to be nominated.