KATHMANDU, Feb 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Nepal has extended the term of two panels investigating allegations of war crimes committed during the Himalayan nation’s decade-long civil war, saying more time was needed to probe the tens of thousands of complaints.
The conflict between government forces and Maoist rebels ended in 2006. Seeking justice for killings, disappearances, rapes, arbitrary arrests and torture is a key provision of the peace agreement.
More than 17,000 people died during the conflict and more than 1,300 are missing. After more than 10 years of peace, families and victims are still waiting to know what happened to their missing loved ones and see perpetrators punished.
“The terms of both commissions have been extended by one year to complete their work,” Law Minister Ajaya Shankar Nayak told the Thomson Reuters Foundation after a cabinet meeting late on Thursday.
Two commissions were established in 2015 - one to probe enforced disappearances and another to investigate more than 60,000 complaints of violations committed during the war.
Survivors, victim’s families, and activists said the extension was not enough. They said current legislation pertaining to war crimes must be amended as currently perpetrators can be granted amnesty.
Political parties - many of which have members accused of war crimes - have no intention of seriously addressing victims’ grievances, said Laxmi Koirala, whose husband was allegedly killed by rebels in 1998.
“We have been patiently waiting all these years for justice and reparations,” Koirala said. “There will be fresh conflict in the country if this inaction drags on.”
Law minister Nayak insisted amendments to the war crimes legislation were in the final stages and had been held up by political infighting over the constitution adopted in 2015.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma @imgsharma, Editing by Nita Bhalla and Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org