Ambassadors express concerns about TRC bill (11 january 2008)
On 11 January Heads of Missions including the British Ambassador; the US Ambassador; the Danish Ambassador; the French Chargé representing the EU Presidency; and a representative of the European Commission called on the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction, Hon. Ram Chandra Poudel, and raised concerns over the draft bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Following the meeting the Heads of Mission, including Norway, said:
"the international community welcomes the proposal to establish a TRC in Nepal. Addressing the past on the basis of truth, justice and reparation allows the country to look forward and build a society where violence is unacceptable and the rule of law is respected. But as before, we are concerned that some of the provisions in the TRC Bill do not meet international standards and will not advance democratic principles. This is of particular concern in regard to the potential granting of amnesty for serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law. This is not the basis on which lasting peace can be built".
The Heads of Mission supported the recommendations of the OHCHR and civil society, both of whom are calling for the TRC to be established only after extensive broad-based public consultations which would include the participation of victim groups.
The Heads of Mission welcomed the regional consultation process undertaken by the Ministry as a first step to broaden the debate. They said:
“we are concerned that the one month deadline set out in the 23 December agreement does not allow sufficient time for consultations. Consultations that inform the drafting of the Bill are vital if the TRC is to be legitimate and provide justice to victims of the conflict. This may require establishing a broad-based steering committee to design a national strategy on consultations. In the spirit of supporting Nepal’s peace process we urge the Government to delay submitting the TRC Bill until there has been adequate consultations which also take into account international law and experience. This is a unique opportunity to set up a sound process of truth and reconciliation that will heal the wounds of the past. Nepal should not miss it.”