on disappearances needed
The decision to form a so-called High-level Investigation Commission on
Disappearances by the Government of Nepal has been in a coma. The government had
formed a three-member High-level Commission for the Investigation of Disappeared
Citizens under the convenorship of Narendra Bahadur Neupane, an ex-Justice of
the Supreme Court, on June 26, 2007.
According to news reports, the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction had created
the commission following a cabinet decision. However, the persons in the
commission seem to have been appointed based on their personal capacity rather
than for their aptness and assortment.
Neupane, the president, is neither intellectually nor physically capable of
investigating into disappeared citizens, a very serious case of human rights
Of the members, advocate Raman Kumar Shrestha is the General-Secretary of Nepal
Bar Association (NBA) while advocate Sher Bahadur KC was the vice president of
the former central committee of the NBA. Besides, the latter had been the legal
advisor to the then Home Minister, during whose period the maximum number of
citizens was made to disappear. Hence, there is sufficient ground to doubt
whether the commission consisting of such personalities will be effective,
independent, impartial and productive.
Labeling it a "High-level Investigation Commission", a notice published on June
27 this year made it clear that the ministry had formed the commission in
according with the decision reached by the cabinet on June 21, exercising the
power authorised by the government by Clause 3, Sub-clause 2 of the
Investigation Commission Act, 2026. The commission has the jurisdiction to
investigate and examine incidents of disappearances from Falgun 1, 2052 to
Mangsir 5, 2063.
In the past, reports submitted by similar commissions were never implemented
properly. And this act has been proved incomplete and ineffective in the present
changed political scenario, given the gravity of the subject and the authority
to probe possible culprits. Hence, there is a need to adopt an independent act
for the formation of a high-level and powerful commission on disappeared
The United Nations has set clear standards while forming probe commissions on
citizen disappearances. According to it, the members involved in the commission
must be capable, independent, free and impartial while there must be proper
representation from the women or particularly from the groups suffering from the
violation of human rights. Unfortunately, the above-mentioned standards are
purely lacking in the commission just formed.
Concurrently, the action has ignored the consent for the formation of a
high-level commission as agreed upon in the Broad Peace Agreement held between
the Nepalese Government and the CPN (Maoists) in November last year, and,
subsequently, the commitment made to the families of the disappeared citizens.
Similarly, the Supreme Court of Nepal in its decision on disappeared citizens in
May had decided to order the mandamus in the name of the Nepal Government for
the formation of an independent and effective law having retrospective effect
and adopting international standards. At the same time, the legislature must
pass an independent act relating to disappeared citizens and form a high-level
powerful commission for punishing possible culprits involved in the shocking
practice of making disappearances in the past.
On July 26, the Peace and Reconstruction Minister admitted that the actual
status of the disappeared citizens could not be published in the past due to
lack of necessary details. Furthermore, he revealed that the government has
asked the Attorney General to provide his legal opinion on the issue of the
formation of such a commission. In fact, the government itself is not confident
about its own decisions taken and exercises done in the past on the issue of
Therefore, the demand and the need of today are to form a commission under the
aforementioned powerful Act. Otherwise, the state of impunity rooted as a custom
will get more encouragement in Nepal. Consequently, the practice of citizen
disappearances and the impact of this problem will only be more awful.