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Report Says Impunity in Nepal Blocks Peace Process

Selah Hennessy | London 14 January 2010

A new report says Nepal's peace process is in danger because of a failure to address crimes committed during the country's decade-long civil war. The research organization International Crisis Group says prosecution of those responsible for the most serious atrocities must be one of the country's top priorities.

International Crisis Group Asia Program Director Robert Templar says impunity is a major problem in Nepal.

"There has been a real lack of accountability following the signing of the peace process," he said. "And that lack of accountability on both sides risks worsening the problems with that peace process, which at the moment is in a tense and delicate stage."

About 13,000 people were killed and more than 1,000 disappeared during Nepal's decade-long civil war, which ended with a peace agreement in 2006.

The International Crisis Group says both the Nepalese government and the Maoists have made commitments to investigate disappearances and address human-rights issues, but the group says no action has been taken.

It says the top priorities need to be prosecuting the most serious crimes, investigating disappearances, and vetting state and Maoist security forces. It says, the United Nations needs to do more to lead the way towards bringing an end to impunity.

The U.N. Mission in Nepal was set up in 2007 to support and monitor the peace process. But Templar told VOA the international organization is losing its credibility in the country.

"Large numbers of Nepali officers join international peacekeeping missions around the world. In many cases those same officers have been accused of abuses at home," he said. "I do not think it is acceptable for the U.N. to be giving often very lucrative, very prestigious positions to people who have abused their own citizens at home."

Charu Lata Hogg, Nepal analyst at London-based research group Chatham House, says bringing those responsible for abuses in Nepal to justice will serve as a deterrent in a nation wracked by violence.

"Prosecutions and bringing an end to impunity are intrinsically linked up to the future peace in Nepal," said Hogg.

But she says the structure of Nepal's judiciary, police force, and army stands in the way of prosecution.

"The way the political culture in Nepal has evolved in which there is extreme corruption - the bureaucracy is overladen, the attorney-general's office is not independent, the judiciary is not independent and is under political influence - is another important factor which has created a situation of rising impunity and no actual violations being tried," said Hogg.

The U.N. mandate in Nepal is due to expire January 23. But this week U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern over a political stalemate in Nepal and recommended that the UN's special mission be extended.

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