02/27/2015, 00.00
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Nepal's Supreme Court rules against civil war amnesty

The court struck down the amnesty provisions of a law favourable to those who committed serious human rights abuses during the civil war. The government promises to respect the court's decision. Between 1996 and 2006, more than 17,000 people were killed, 1,300 disappeared. Thousands more were displaced.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Supreme Court of Nepal struck down provisions in the Transitional justice Act that would have given amnesty to perpetrators of serious human rights abuses during the civil war because they are against the established principles of justice, constitutional provision, international law and the court's earlier verdicts.

The court ruled after 234 conflict victims filed an appeal in June 2014. The government in Kathmandu said it would honour the court's decision.

In April 2013, the government passed a compromise bill that created two bodies:  the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances. Both have the power to grant amnesty to those responsible for serious violations human rights.

The law was immediately and widely condemned as a move to protect perpetrators of such crimes, many of whom now occupied positions of power in the army or in political parties.

For the past few years, Nepal has been trying to find justice for the victims of violations that occurred during the conflict between Maoist rebels and security forces (1996-2006), which in 2008 led to the abolition of the country's absolute Hindu monarchy and the instauration of a secular democracy.

More than 17,000 people were killed, 1,300 people disappeared, and thousands were displaced during the war that ended in 2006. Both government forces and Maoist rebels have been accused of abuses, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, rapes and torture.

Dinesh Tripathi, a lawyer representing one of the victims, called the Supreme Court ruling a "landmark" decision. "It is a serious blow to political parties who wanted the commissions to work according to their convenience," Mr. Tripathi said.

Signed in 2006 by the rebels and the government to end the conflict, the peace agreement included a commitment to investigate abuses in the subsequent six months. However, attempts by successive governments to ascertain the truth have failed because of political differences.

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