In absence of justice for disappeared people, relatives knock on doors of courts in Nepal

Almost six years have passed since Nepal constituted a commission to investigate the cases of people gone missing during the decade-long Maoist insurgency that raged from 1996 to 2006

Sep 02, 2021
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Nepal

Almost six years have passed since Nepal constituted a commission to investigate the cases of people gone missing during the decade-long Maoist insurgency that raged from 1996 to 2006. However, for most people, whose relatives were forcibly disappeared in those years, justice hasn’t been served.

Disappointed with the commission, relatives of many families are now turning to courts, filing cases against the alleged abductors under a law that was introduced three years ago. 

The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons received a total of 3223 complaints; Of them, it found 2494 cases as genuine. 1227 families received compensation of almost NPR 1 million ( $8572 ). Others still await compensation. In most cases, the commission failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Khum Lal Sharma is among the two dozen people in the country who lost trust in the transitional justice system. They have filed cases in different police stations, seeking action against their alleged abductors. 

Sharma saw his wife last time on 1 December 2005 when she was taken away by Maoist Rebel leaders. 
 
Police, on the other hand, haven’t registered FIR and instead asked for some time to study the complaint. In some cases, police refused to entertain the complaints, saying the cases didn’t fall under the jurisdiction. 

“The commission did nothing in the last six years,” Sharma was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post. “The Penal Code that came into effect three years back has opened the door for us to file the complaint with the police.”

The relatives of victims are banking on Section 206 (1) of the Penal Code which came into effect three years ago and prohibits enforced disappearance and lists it as a criminal offense for the first time. Anyone convicted of disappearing an individual could face 15 years of jail and NPR 500,000  (around $4300 ) fine or both.

If the victim of the enforced disappearance is a child or a woman, the sentence could be increased to 17 years. 

They are determined to seek justice for their loved ones, saying they will approach the High Court and the Supreme court if police fail to investigate the cases. 

The International Committee for Red Cross in a recent report said that 1333 people are still missing whose cases weren’t taken up by the commission. 

(SAM)