“Perpetrators of Human Rights Will be Black-listed”

Anup Raj Sharma

Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC-Nepal)

Former Chief Justice Anup Raj Sharma was appointed as the Chief Commissioner of National Human Rights Commission on October 20. On November 5, Ramesh Prasad Timalsina had an interview with him for INSEConline regarding NHRC’s future programs and its leadership role. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

The government has not fully recommended the past recommendations of National Human Rights Commission. What is NHRC doing in this regard?

The Supreme Court of Nepal has confirmed that NHRC’s recommendations are not an alternative but mandatory. That is rather than saying what we will do, we will find the answers from government despite of probing which recommendations did not implemented. Why did this situation occur? Is it due to the lack of investigation or due to the discretionary attitude towards NHRC’s recommendation? I had told Prime Minister that government itself is a human rights defender and that if the government did not implement the recommendations, I will raise the issue against it. We will also blacklist the perpetrators of human rights and publish their name.

Why NHRC should hesitate to criticize the government’s human rights record when the government is neglecting NHRC’s recommendations and the Supreme Court is continuously instructing to implement its recommendation?

There is no need to hesitate but we only need to find reasons. Not implementing the recommendations proves that the government did not show any concern. We will investigate why there was no implementation of the recommendation?

What can be the means to tackle increasing impunity?

There is no single formula or means to stop impunity however it will not stop until and unless politics do not improve. The problems emerge due to the power lust of the political leaders. This has also a main obstacle in constitution-drafting process.

United Nation’s Human Rights Committee has shown its grave concern towards apathy shown by the state on forwarding the NHRC in accordance with the Paris Principles. What do you say about it?

There have been two questions raised on this issue. Among them, one has already been answered by the Apex Court to some extent. Observers and other organizations have raised concerns for two or three sections of the NHRC Act 2012. If these sections are the obstacles in functioning of the NHRC, then our effort will be on amending these sections for its autonomy.

NHRC had reservations in the formation of the advisory committee to set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Despite this, NHRC sent its representative. What is the difference then and now?

There is a difference. At that time the Act had not been approved by the parliament and was in a form of ordinance. Now the bill has been passed. The recommendations for the TRC do not stop even if we do not send any representative. We thought that we would put forth our concerns and won’t rush recommend for two commissions. We will also study minutely the person coming in two commissions. We hope that a way will be clear after the Apex Court makes its final decision. Once the Act was made, an interim order was asked to stop its implementation. The Act will definitely find its course because the Apex Court did not issue the interim order.

Human Rights activists, international community and conflict victims are saying that the Act itself is not human rights-friendly. Is NHRC waiting for Supreme Court’s order or has its own view?

No, we have our own view. Our objection is on giving amnesty to the perpetrators of grave human rights violence and we are strongly against it. We believe that the perpetrators must be brought into legal proceeding as per the existing national legal provisions.

Are existing laws not sufficient to decide the incidents of armed conflict? Or TRC is an absolute need?

The need for TRC is due to the political consensus. The existing laws could have decided the cases if there was no such consensus. Some criminal cases occurred during armed conflict are still sub judice. The process of registering cases after the investigation will not stop. However, the formation of TRC after a political consensus will make it easier to resolve incidents occurred during the armed conflict.

Can it be that NHRC has launched prison monitoring campaign observing that the prisons are being transformed into torture centers?

Yes. The prisoners inside and outside Kathmandu valley are deprived of basic services they entitled for. We have seen malpractices and corruption in the prisons. Prisons also need physical renovation. There are 200-300 inmates in a house having capacity of just 50 inmates. Firstly, we want a physical improvement of prisons and only after that we will try to ensure basic needs of the inmates.

Is politics for Human rights or politics leads human rights?

Politics is for Human Rights. Human Rights should not run after politics.

But, political parties sign some agreement and human rights follow suit?

It is unfortunate for the country. The essence of the constitution was not implemented. Constitution included something that should not be in the constitution. It should not be a political document but sadly it became so. This situation has come because the political parties could not rise above partisan stands.

NHRC faces various kinds of pressure, does it not?

Yes, that is why I ask for help from right activists and civil society. Without their support, we cannot do anything singlehandedly.