05/12/2016, 15.31
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Amnesty deal between government and Maoists over war crimes angers Nepalis

by Christopher Sharma

The agreement would amend existing laws, whitewashing crimes against humanity like rape, torture, murder, and kidnapping by government forces and Maoist rebels. Some 37 cases have been filed against Maoist leader. The government gives in to Maoist amnesty demand to avoid fall.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Government of Nepal and the main Maoist party have reached an agreement to amend laws against civil war crimes (1995-2006).

Under the deal, people guilty of rape, murder, torture and kidnappings will not be judged by the Commission set up to hear cases brought forward by civilians.

Outraged, human rights activists have slammed the government and the Maoists who recently threatened to stop backing the prime minister.

For analysts, with the amnesty, the government is giving in to the former rebels to avert its own fall. The government's decision has sparked anger across the country.

The civil war, which lasted more than ten years, saw government forces and Maoist rebels commit crimes against humanity. Some 17,000 people died during the conflict, with an additional 100,000 displaced until a comprehensive UN-sponsored peace agreement was signed on 21 November 2006.

Human rights advocates, survivors and victims’ families staged a sit-in in front of the office of Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Some survivors and victims’ families have threatened to turn to international organisations if the deal is not immediately scrapped.

The nine-point agreement would place civil war crimes under an amnesty within 15 days.

“Politics should not interfere with justice,” said I P Aryal, head of Human Rights Organisation-Nepal (HURON). “Amending laws and avoiding legal action against crimes will increase impunity and lawlessness. Justice and human rights should not be changed under any circumstances.”

The deal comes less than a month since the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which is hearing complaints from victims' families.

Rajani Chaudhari, who lost two brothers, a husband and a cousin, said, "I demand that the murderer of my family be charged at any cost and that my complaint not be rejected."

What angers victims’ relatives it is that perpetrators of serious crimes would walk away scot free. One of them is Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leader and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. At present, 37 cases have been filed against him.

For the party’s current secretary, Barsha Man Pun, the blame for the situation lies with international organisations who turned “a few people [. . .] against us”.

Still, he does acknowledge that “during the insurgency, crimes were committed, but they should be seen as political, and individuals should not be held responsible” for them.

"If insurgency cases are singled out, then all senior Maoist leaders would be sent to jail, including government officials. This would set back the peace process.”

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