AI Nepal Activities
Nepal: Promotion of War Crimes Suspect Affront to Justice
The Nepali cabinet’s decision on October 4, 2012, to promote a colonel suspected of involvement in war crimes to the rank of brigadier general is a slap in the face for the victims of Nepal’s protracted civil war, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists said in a joint press release on 6 October, 2012.
The United Nations and the Nepali National Human Rights Commission compiled credible evidence of systematic enforced disappearances and torture at Bhairabnath Battalion headquarters in Kathmandu under the command of the colonel, Raju Basnet, in 2003. On the basis of this evidence, in 2007 Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered an independent investigation and prosecution of these human rights violations. That order includes allegations that Basnet personally committed acts of torture.
“Nepal’s cabinet has thrown the entire idea of holding soldiers accountable for abuses out the door,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This cynical and reprehensible decision seriously undermines respect for human rights and contradicts Nepal’s assurances to the international community that it would hold those implicated in wartime crimes to account.”
“Despite years of promises, the Maoists and the army have shown themselves united in one crucial aspect: contempt for the notion of accountability for criminal acts and victims’ rights to justice, truth, and reparation,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s South Asia director.
“With the promotion of Basnet, the denial of justice and accountability has essentially turned into government policy,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia director at the International Commission of Jurists. “This decision is basically the current Nepali government saying it does not care about the rule of law, does not care about its own Supreme Court directives, and indeed, does not care about the best interests of its own citizens. This promotion is a signal to all perpetrators that power trumps justice.”
In joint press release, the rights groups called on the international community to urge the Nepali government to revoke its decision. “Nepali civil society, with support from the UN and the international community, has spent years seeking to promote justice and accountability,” Adams said. “By promoting Col. Basnet, the government has sent a clear signal to the Nepali people and the country’s international supporters that it not committed to these same goals.”