11/21/2008, 00.00
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Maoist government: law on "desaparecidos" would be retroactive

by Kalpit Parajuli
The measure, which must still be approved, provides prison sentences and fines for those who commit kidnappings, and their accomplices. The law would regulate cases of disappearance recorded between 1996 and 2006, the year in which the agreement was signed between the communist guerrillas and the coalition government. Human rights activists say there are 2,200 cases of disappearance.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The Nepalese Maoist government has released a proposed law on the "desaparecidos," providing prison sentences and fines for those who carry out kidnappings, and their accomplices. The law would be applied retroactively, covering the decade marked by the Maoist conflict (1996-2006); but would not apply to crimes after November 21, 2006, the day on which the communist guerrillas and the seven parties making up the coalition government signed the peace agreement.

The draft law was presented by Janardan Sharma, minister for peace and reconstruction, in the presence of the head of the justice department and Nepal's attorney general, in addition to activists and experts on human rights. The measure would regulate the cases of disappearances recorded in the period between February 13, 1996, and November 21, 2006. It provides penalties of up to five years in prison, and fines of 5,000 euros for those who commit kidnapping; the penalties are cut in half for accomplices. If the cases of disappearance concern women and children, the penalty could be raised to seven years in prison.

The proposed law also provides for the creation of an independent commission formed by five prominent figures. These would include the president of the constituent assembly, activists, psychologists, lawyers, or experts in conflict with at least 10 years of experience.

Gauri Pradhan, a member of the Nepalese human rights commission, says that during the period under discussion, 2,200 cases of disappeared persons were reported. The relatives of the "desaparecidos" would be given compensation in the form of free health care and education, jobs, and assistance in finding housing.

The draft law must now be reviewed by Dev Gurung, the minister of justice and parliamentary affairs, who will make any necessary changes; the text would then have to be approved by the government and would go to parliament, for final ratification and implementation.

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