Conflict & Justice

UN warns Nepal pardoning murderer sets dangerous precedent

The United Nations criticized Nepal's Maoist-led government for pardoning a member of parliament convicted of committing murder during the country's decade-long civil war, Reuters reported.

The UN said the decision to grant amnesty would "entrench impunity", and called on authorities to respect the judiciary's decision.

Both the army and former Maoist rebels were accused of involvement in torture, killings, abductions and disappearances during the impoverished Himalayan nation's war, which killed more than 16,000 people, before ending under a 2006 peace deal, Reuters said.

Last week, Nepal's government asked President Ram Baran Yadav to grant amnesty to Bal Krishna Dhungel, a former Maoist rebel-turned-lawmaker, convicted by a court in 2004 of murder during the conflict. Dhungel has not served any time in jail, the news agency said.

"Such decisions will establish a trend to entrench impunity and send the wrong message at the wrong time," Reuters quoted Jyoti Sanghera, head of the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner in Nepal (OHCHR-N), as saying. "The government should respect Nepal’s judiciary and the rule of law."

Notably, in the recent deal to demobilize the former Maoist soldiers -- the largest impediment to drafting a new constitution -- Nepal's various political parties agreed to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to deal with wartime atrocities. Presumably, such a body would prevent amnesties of the type granted Dhungel from being granted unilaterally.