Date: 29 April 2013

Prachanda should be asked to ensure violence free-elections and accountability for past abuses

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to raise the issue of accountability for past human rights abuses, and the indispensability of holding free and fair elections for durable peace in Nepal with the Nepalese Maoists’ leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda who is visiting India from 28 to 30 April 2013.

“Unless accountability is addressed and cadres of the political parties especially the Youth Communists League of the Maoists (UCPN) refrain from using violence as the means to win the forthcoming Constituent Assembly elections, the chances of Nepal falling into further conflict are real. There has not been any accountability for killing of about 13,000 people, enforced disappearance of over 1,300 people and other human rights violations in the conflict between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists from 1996 to 2006. The violence in the forthcoming constituent assembly elections will only engulf Nepal into further conflicts.”- warned Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

In order to provide amnesty for serious human rights violations like murder and enforced disappearances, on 14 March 2013, the President of Nepal endorsed the “Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Ordinance” which provides for general amnesty for serious human rights violations other than “rape”. On 1 April 2013, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued a stay order not to implement sections 3, 13 23, 25 and 29 of the Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Ordinance relating to the formation of the commission, amnesty power, procedures of the Commission and the Statute of limitation of the Commission.

While the Government of Nepal failed to establish accountability with respect to violations committed by the security forces, Asian Centre for Human Rights also accused the Maoists of promoting the leaders who were involved in the murder of innocent civilians. Mr Agni Prasad Sapkota, one of the main accused for abduction and murder of Arjun Bahadur Lama, a school teacher, in Kavre district in June 2005, was made a member of the Constituent Assembly and appointed as Minister for Information and Communication. Mr Sapkota, against whom a First Information Report was registered under the direction of the Supreme Court of Nepal has been serving as the spokesperson of the Maoists (UCPN).

Asian Centre for Human Rights expressed concerns about impending violence leading upto the Constituent Assembly elections. Election related violence including murder of political activists, rigging, booth capturing etc must not be resorted to.

Asian Centre for Human Rights requested Prime Minister of India to urge Prachanda to ensure compliance with the stay issued by the Supreme Court of Nepal on the Truth, Reconciliation and Disappearance Ordinance and work on political consensus to allow the Ordinance to lapse and establish accountability for the past abuses, and make commitment not to resort to intimidation and violence leading upto the Constituent Assembly Elections. ACHR further urged India to offer technical and financial assistance for holding free and fair Constituent Assembly elections including holding phase-wise elections in order to allow movement of the security forces to ensure violence free elections. [Ends]