Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nepal and UN Peacekeeping

Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, has written this article on the failure of Nepal to take action to ensure that personnel are properly vetted before they are appointed to key security positions. Highlights:
At least two Nepali officials have been expelled from the UN missions: Army Officer Major Niranjan Basnet from Chad in December 2009 and Police Officer Basanta Bahadur Kunwar from Liberia in November 2011. Colonel Kumar Lama of the NA, who was serving with the UN mission in South Sudan, is now facing trial after being arrested in the UK in January 2013 for torture in Nepal. Besides these cases, very senior generals within the NA have been turned down for leadership positions of large peacekeeping missions on the basis of well-founded concerns over their domestic human rights records.
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The problem for the UN is that Nepal offers up the likes of Lama, Basnet and Kunwar for senior peacekeeping mission. Since the NA and the State refuse to examine the records of its soldiers, it pushes these types of ‘leaders’ onto the UN; ‘leaders’ who are facing credible allegations of torture, summary execution and disappearance. 
The report on Nepal is clear. Nepal has done nothing to implement the UN 2012 screening policy. Instead it has done quite the opposite, actively protecting criminals within the ranks of the security forces. In protecting its criminals, the State has repeatedly ignored the rulings of its own Supreme Court. In August 2012 the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the Government to put in place appropriate legislation and guidelines to ensure that security officials are vetted before they are appointed or promoted to high-level positions.
In 2014, the Government again rejected the very clear ruling of the Supreme Court (of January 2) that ordered amendments to proposed transitional justice laws. The Court found the proposed law incompatible with Nepali law, the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court and international standards. The Government’s response was to organize a series of sham consultations and then ignore the views of the public and push through the law anyway. The new transitional justice law is indistinguishable from the law wholly rejected by the Supreme Court. Apart from the damage done to the rule of law, and the institution of the Supreme Court, the new law violates national and international laws in numerous ways including offering the potential for amnesty to those who have committed international human rights crimes. 
The debate on peacekeeping being played out in Nepal’s media for the UN benefit is dishonest and wholly disrespectful of the UN as an institution. The simple truth is the UN cannot trust Nepal not to reward torturers and other grave rights violators with senior positions within UN DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations]. The UN will not be able to restore trust until Nepal begins to address these criminals, through its justice system, and providing accountability for the past gross human rights violations. This it refuses to do as the new transitional legislation so aptly demonstrates.

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