Transitional Justice Lessons for Nepal

CESIF Nepal Gender and Inclusion, Research / Analysis / Reports, Thematic Areas Leave a Comment

Nepal’s transitional justice process awaits a logical end. Neither the government nor the major political parties have seriously worked towards for that. Political observers blame leaders for failing to prioritize the transitional justice process despite reiterated written and verbal commitments.

On 21 November 2oo6, Nepal Government and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA)[1] and ended the 10-year-long insurgency. The international community warmly welcomed the peaceful transformation of Nepal into a new era, giving new hopes to the victims of the decade-long war.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR), on 8 October 2012, released a comprehensive report with a database of around 30,000 documents archiving record of 9,000 serious cases of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.[2] Most of the victims of the insurgency had hoped that they will finally be ensured justice.

Constitutional Provision

The Interim Constitution 2007, Article 33 (Dha), Article 132 (1), (2), and (3) and Constitution of Nepal, 2015, Article 249 clause (2)(e) and (h) foresaw establishment of the transitional justice to take action against cases of human rights violation during the decade-long armed conflict. The high-level truth and reconciliation commission would investigate cases of gross violations of human rights violence during the war.[3] The CPA 2006, Article 8.4 had also provisioned forming commission for transitional justice. The CPA considered upholding of human rights with separate provisions on rights and made references to international human rights instruments like Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, International Humanitarian Law, and fundamental principles and values.[4] Likewise, CPA, Article 5.2.3 states “both sides agree to make public within 60 days of the signing of the agreement the real name, caste, and address of the people made ‘disappeared’ or killed during the conflict and inform the family members about it.[5] But justice has been a far cry for the families of the victims or any sort of action against the perpetrators have not been taken until now.

Transitional Justice Situation Update

The erstwhile government and Maoist rebels agreed to ensure justice and reconciliation for the victims, and in June 2007, the process of transitional justice began.[6] Eight years later, on February 2015, the government established two justice bodies – Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission on Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). As of July 2017, the TRC has received 58,052 complaints of human rights violations, and the CIEDP has received 2874 complaints of alleged enforced disappearances.[7] The four-year tenure and extended two years more for the commission period failed to give justice to the victims. The commission spent time collecting complaints. Currently, TJ bodies have remained without leadership since 14 April 2019,[8] and the government has failed to appoint new leadership on various pretexts. The federal parliament endorsed an amendment bill on the CIEDP and TRC Act 2014.[9]  Parties picked up former attorney general Raman Shrestha as chief of TRC, but Shrestha was not ready to take the responsibility.[10]

Further, the commissions have failed in working towards its aims and objectives and have not addressed the voice of the victims. Thousands of war victims are still in search of justice.[11]

Nepal’s transitional justice process awaits a logical end. Neither the government nor the major political parties have seriously worked towards for that. Political observers blame leaders for failing to prioritize the transitional justice process despite reiterated written and verbal commitments.[12] Due to a lack of confidentiality and meaningful investigation, the conflict victims groups have never trusted the TJ bodies’ work and its investigation. After CPA was signed, Nepali political parties reintegrated the Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army in July 2013 and Nepal framed a new constitution. However, the Federal Democratic Republic is yet to heal the wounds of the victims.

International Community Concerns

International Community has been exerting pressure and expressing concerns Nepal’s transitional justice process. The government and major parties have all time lacked the political will and meaningful consultations for resolving the issue. Many times different human rights activists group have exerted pressure and expressed concerns transitional justice. Five UN special rapporteurs on April 17, on July 29, four international organization have asked adopting a consultative and transparent appointment process.[13] The government had every time failed to provide justice. Likewise, Nepal’s human rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Commission, and the victims’ groups have demanded justice and appointment of leadership would be fair and clean. The Conflict Victims’ Common Platform is mostly articulate to raise the voice of the victims for justice. However, the government’s apathy towards the issue remains unchanged.

Transitional Justice Lessons for Nepal

Gambia Transitional Justice is more meaningful and reconciliable than Nepal’s TJ process. The Gambia had also faced blatant human rights abuses between 1994 to 2017 during Yayha Abdul-Aziz Jammeh’s rule. In December 2017, President Adama Barrow committed to forming the TJ bodies – Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC), and the Constitutional Review Council (CRC).[14] Both commissions didn’t have any political interest and delivered justice without controversy. According to the Afrobarometer survey 2018, 46% of Gambian people have trust in both the commissions.[15] Similarly, Colombia has also resolved its long-running insurgency and ensured transitional justice.[16] Further, Sri Lanka has worked on its TJ process. Post-2015, the Government of Sri Lanka has been comparatively progressive about its commitment to transitional justice and human rights at the international level.[17]      

Way Forward

Taking lessons from elsewhere, Nepal should establish itself as a land of peace and justice in the world arena. TJ process is to address the past judicial and non-judicial human rights violations and crimes. Nepal’s TJ bodies should, without any delays, give justice and allow for reconciliation. Fourteen years have already passed since 2006 CPA, and there should not be any further delays. The justice bodies should bring the perpetrators on the justice table if need be. Justice and reconciliation should be healing the wounds of the victims for sustainable peace and prosperity.

Author: Chakra Bikram Bam


[1] See: Comprehensive Peace Accord Signed between Nepal Government And the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), 22 November 2006.

[2] United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, October 2012. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/NP/OHCHR_Nepal_Conflict_Report2012.pdf (5 September 2019).

[3]  The Constitution of Nepal 2072 (2015) / The interim constitution of Nepal 2063 (2007).

[4] http://www.advocacyforum.org/downloads/pdf/publications/tj/transitional-justice-at-crossroads-2014.pdf (5 September 2019). 

[5] Transitional Justice in Nepal: A Look at the International Experience of Truth Commissions. https://www.nepalresearch.org/crisis_solution/papers/cochran_2007_usip_09.pdf (5 September 2019).

[6] https://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/editorial-amend-the-act/ (5 September 2019).

[7] See; Nepal’s Transitional Justice Process:  Challenges and Future Strategy A Discussion Paper. August 2017. https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Nepal-TJus-Process-Advocacy-2017-ENG.pdf (5 September 2019).

[8] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/03/26/panel-formed-to-pick-names-for-transitional-justice-bodies (6 September 2019). 

[9] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com.np/news/2019-02-06/house-endorses-amendment-bill-on-transitional-justice-act.html (6 September 2019).

[10] https://kathmandupost.com/special-supplement/2019/08/22/former-attorney-general-raman-shrestha-is-parties-pick-for-truth-commission (6 September 2019). 

[11] http://archive.nepalitimes.com/article/business/tale-of-two-commissions%20,1275 (6 September 2019).

[12] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2018/11/21/12-years-on-political-leadership-still-dithers-on-transitional-justice (6 September 2019).

[13] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/25/parties-undue-intervention-could-call-credibility-of-transitional-justice-process-into-question

[14] http://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/press-release/La%20Gambie/gam_r7_pr2_expectations_of_trrc_31102018.pdf (5 September 2019).

[15]https://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/publications/Dispatches/ab_r7_dispatchno249_gambians_want_national_healing_with_justice.pdf

[16] https://www.nepalitimes.com/editorial/rocky-transition-to-justice/ (6 September 2019).

[17] https://www.academia.edu/38535651/The_Quest_for_Transitional_Justice_in_Sri_Lanka (6 September 2019).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *