THRD Alliance Calls the International Community to Join Hands to Urge the Government of Nepal to Make Public the Inquiry Commission’s Report on the Terai Killings

On 15 December 2017, the High-level Inquiry Commission (HLIC) that was formed by the government to investigate the state atrocities during the 2015 Madhes movement has submitted its report to the Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. THRD Alliance would like the international community, including human rights community, and concerned stakeholders to join hands with us to urge the government of Nepal to make public the commission’s report and also implement the recommendations.

Background

As per a three-point agreement with agitating Madhesi parties, the coalition government of Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre had formed the probe commission on 18 September 2016. The formation of the High-level Inquiry Commission was one of the demands of the agitating Madhesi parties, and one of recommendations made by the Human Rights Watch in its report titled “Like We Are Not Nepali” Protest and Police Crackdown in the Terai Region of Nepal and Asian Human Rights Commission and THRD Alliance in their joint report titled Nepal Protest and Repression – State Responsibility for 37 Killings During Protests in Terai.

The commission was mandated to investigate the constitution-related protests and repression in the Terai that took place in 2015/16 and recommend the compensation to the victims and action against those responsible for the killings.

The commission was initially a seven-member body but another member of the commission Khusi Prasad Tharu resigned from his post effective from 14 January 2017 after he was appointed as a High Court judge. The commission worked as a six member body from January 14, 2017, consisting of Deputy Attorney General Surya Koirala, Advocate Sujan Lopchan, former Nepal Police Additional Inspector General (AIG) Navaraj Dhakal and Home Ministry Joint-secretary Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadi under the leadership of former Supreme Court justice Girish Chandra Lal.

As per the report, the commission was initially given six months to complete its investigation but the commission, before its term ended,  sought  extension of its tenure by one year  keeping in mind the number of complaints lodged at the commission, the need for visiting places outside and the need for seeking information from the concerned people. The commission’s tenure was first extended by three months on 11 April 2017 and second time its tenure was extended by three months on 20 July 2017. The government then extended the commission’s tenure for the third time on 17 November 2017 till 15 December 2017. The commission finally submitted its report to the government within 14 months.

On 20 November 2016,  after one month and five days from the day the commission launched its website, the commission was provided with, salary, allowance, and furniture for the office. After repeated reminders and correspondences, the commission could get some additional money after two months and 14 days from the date the commission was formed. The report claimed that the commission continued its work by launching its own website on its own initiative although the government did not provide them the budget as sought by the commission. Against the backdrop, THRD Alliance had extended its support to the commission in order to complete the tasks, which is also acknowledged in the background section of the report:

“This commission must note the assistance provided by the THRD Alliance in the course of visiting various places to collect complaints and to interact with the victims. Had THRD Alliance not helped, this commission would have had to face more difficulties in completing its assigned jobs. Therefore, the commission sincerely thanks this organization. [English translation of the Nepali texts from background section of the report]”

Publishing a notice on 1 December 2016, the commission solicited complaints under its jurisdiction within one month. The commission, publishing another notice on 1 January 2017 to solicit complaints, extended the duration for lodging complaints till 14 January 2017.

During the investigation, the commission’s office bearers visited the 18 districts, which included.

·       Tikapur, Kailali,  from  February 6, 2017 to February 9, 2017

·       Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari from February 26, 2017 to March 3, 2017

·       Mahottari, Dhanusha from March 21, 2017 to March 28, 2017

·       Sarlahi, Rautahat from April 6, 2017 to April 10, 2017

·       Banke, Bardiya and Dang from May 1, 2017 to May 5, 2017

·       Bara, Parsa from May 23, 2017 to May 28, 2017

·       Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi from June 7, 2017 to June 12, 2017

·       Saptari, Siraha from July 6, 2017 to July 12, 2017

·       Kathmandu, on September 4, 2017

Major Highlights

Upon the submission of the commission’s report last week, the government has not made it public yet.  The commission’s members and press statements and news report revealed some of major highlights of the commission’s report, which are presented below.

·       The commission received a total of 3,264 complaints including 1938 complaints from Madhesi political parties and 1326 from others.

·       Despite all these problems and a huge number of complaints, the commission visited all places of incidents and interacted with almost all the victims and injured persons and could submit its report within 14 months.

·       66 people — including 10 police personnel, an 18-month-old, four-year old Samman Patel and 15-year-old Nitu Yadav–were killed during the movement. Of them, 62, including the police officials, were declared martyrs while four had not been conferred the status. The report recommended the government that four of those killed during the movement should also be declared martyrs.

·       The commission also recommended the government to strengthen the mechanism to control riots and agitations in a proper way.

·       The commission has recommended legal action against those responsible for human rights violations during the Madhes movement.

Call to Action: 

Make the Commission’s Report Public & Implement its Recommendations 

THRD Alliance, along with the network of the victims’ families, calling the international community to join hands, in urging the Government of Nepal to make the commission’s report public, and act accordingly to implement its recommendations.

Here is why the government needs to make the commission’s report public and implement the recommendations made in the report:

1.      Nepal has set a historic record of not making the reports of such commissions public and also, ineffective implementation of the recommendations made in most of the cases. Keeping this in mind, we urge both the government and the international community to ensure that the report is made public and the recommendations made by the commission are implemented effectively.

2.      Once the commission’s report is made public, it will ensure transparency and the right to information of the victims’ families and other stakeholders. On top of that, it will set a precedent for the upcoming reports of transitional justice related commissions– Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP).

3.      Earlier, in June 2017, the UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights wrote a letter to the Government of Nepal requesting it to submit an update on the investigation’s progress on state atrocities during Madhes movement. However, the government has not yet responded to the letter. Since the investigation report has already been submitted to the government, let’s call on the government to respond to the letter written by the UN Special Rapporteurs.

4.      Families of those who were killed by security personnel during Madhes movement are awaiting justice. None of those responsible for the state atrocities during the Madhes movement has been prosecuted.

5.      As Nepal joins the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as a member beginning 1 January 2018 for a three-year term, let’s call the Government of Nepal for greater action on human rights domestically by making public the commission’s report and implementing its recommendations.

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