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Nepal: Coverage on meetings between the CICC delegation & govt. authorities
09 Mar 2009
Dear Colleagues,
Please find below several articles reporting on the side meetings between the CICC delegation and various government authorities in the context of the CICC's Asia Strategy Meeting held in Kathmandu on March 3 &4.

CICC Delegation Media Coverage

1. ICC accession bill back to square one


KATHMANDU, March 7 - The Accession Bill concerning Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is back to square one. The government says it intends to table the Bill, which was endorsed by the House three years ago, at the Constituent Assembly. This is said to further delay the treaty's much-awaited ratification.
Minister for Law, Justice and Constituent Assembly Affairs Dev Gurung said the Cabinet alone "cannot approve the bill in view of the changes in the political fabric." The treaty, according to Gurung, cannot be ratified on the basis of the decision taken by the House three years ago, as the House then was represented only by seven political parties.

After lying dormant for almost three years since the House issued directives, Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav had tabled the bill to the cabinet on February 11. With the assembly of the state parties of the ICC approaching nearer, the government is under increasing pressure from the international community to ratify the statute.
Speaking to an international delegation led by Convener of International Coalition for ICC (CICC) William Pace, Minister Gurung said, "In order to ratify the treaty, the government will have to hold discussions with all the political parties for consensus." This means repeating the same procedures the House completed three years ago.

However, Subodh Raj Pyakurel of Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) says there is no need to take the bill to the House again. "The government has already completed the necessary procedures; what is left is the cabinet's approval," he said.
He, however, added that since major political parties -- the Nepali Congress, United Marxist Leninist and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum -- have expressed solidarity with the CICC, the bill would be passed by a majority even if it were taken to the Constituent Assembly. According to rights activists, the Maoists are still unclear on the Rome Statute, hence the delay in the ratification process. They attribute the Maoist stance to their fear of prosecution for the "crimes committed during the decade-long insurgency".
hairman of the Nepal Human Rights Commission Kedar Nath Upadhyay sees no reason for the government to delay the ratification process. He said it could be because of the fear that ICC would look into past crimes. "We will send a letter to the government explaining all this," said Upadhyay. It could be, in Pyakurel's words, either because Maoists are afraid that ICC would start trials on their crimes, which is their misunderstanding, or because there are some elements in the party that see the possibility of them committing crimes against humanity in future.

The delegation led by CICC and INSEC has also advised the government to immediately ratify the treaty to ensure the international community that the party, which came through armed struggle, is committed to delivering justice and ending impunity. It has also suggested that ratification of the treaty by the Maoist-led government would encourage the US government to remove the terrorist tag from Maoists.

2. Call to ratify Rome Statute without delay


KATHMANDU, March 5 - National and international rights groups on Thursday urged the government to accede to the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) without delay if the government is serious about ending the culture of impunity.

The House of Representatives in June 2006 had unanimously passed a motion directing the government to accede to the Rome Statute of ICC respecting people's democratic movement of 2006.

Established in July 2002 in The Hague, the Netherlands, ICC is the first permanent international court that can prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It can, however, exercise jurisdiction over crimes only when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

After the Cabinet's tabling of the Accession Bill and foreign minister's statement to the UN Human Rights Council, the rights groups have expressed optimism that the winter session of the House will decide to accede to the Rome Statute. The optimism surfaced during three days of discussions on strategies to ensure Nepal's accession to Rome Statute of ICC, organised by Coalition for the ICC (CICC) and Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC).

"We have talked to almost all stakeholders including representatives of the political parties, and the civil society ů since they are all positive, we expect the House to ratify the international treaty without delay," said Subodh Pyakurel, chairperson of INSEC.
Apprehensive of possible fear among peace stakeholders, convener of CICC William Pace said the ICC could not go backward in time and take action against crimes committed before ratification of the treaty. "It will take action only when the national courts are unable to deal with crimes", he added. Stressing that Nepal is situated between two powerful countries, Pace said its ratification would send a signal to neighboring counties toward ratifying this treaty.

"It is time to prove to the international community that it is serious, able and willing to deliver justice to the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity," said Asia coordinator of CICC.
The rights groups have stressed that it is an important moment and opportunity to strengthen the rule of law and human rights.

3. 'Accede to the Rome Statue of ICC to End Impunity'

Kathmandu/ 5 March

Representatives of human rights groups of different countries have stressed for accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to end impunity.

In a national workshop "Towards an End to Impunity: Accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court" jointly organized by INSEC and Coalition for the ICC (CICC) on 5 March in Lalitpur, participants from human rights groups of Nepal, India, China, USA, Phillipines shared the opinion that ICC would provide justice and reparation to the victim.

Speaking at the programme, INSEC Chairperson Subodh Raj Pyakurel said that it is imperative for Nepal to join ICC to end impunity in the country. Welcoming the recent statement by Minister of Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav at the 10th Session of the Human Rights Council of being committed to peace and justice, Pyakurel urged the Nepal government to back its words with actions and join the ICC.

Constituent Assembly Chairperson Subhas Chandra Nemwang emphasized that the primary objective of the country's April 2006 move to democracy was to end impunity and strengthen the rule of law. "The government has been doing the necessary preparation, but the accession proposal has yet to be submitted to parliament. I am hopeful that there will be progress in the upcoming session of the parliament," Nemwang said.

William R Pace of CICC said that Nepal had the opportunity to take the peace process to a logical conclusion and to end impunity by accessing the Rome Statute.

Chief of OHCHR-Nepal Richard Bennett, Evelyn Serrano of CICC-Asia also expressed their views in the workshop. Executive Director of INSEC Bijaya Raj Gautam had shed light on the programme while lawyer Hari Phunyal presented a concept paper on 'Core issues pertaining to state obligations after accession to Rome Statue.'

4. Maoist, Nepal Army agree on Rome Statute: Not in Nepal

KATHMANDU, March 9: A draft bill for ratification of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is likely to suffer a setback as it has been tossed aside by the cabinet. The bill was tabled by Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav at the cabinet meeting on February 11.
"The bill needs broader discussion," says Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Dev Gurung. He argues that the political committee in the cabinet is likely take up the issue for discussion considering the political nature of the bill
Minister Gurung claims that the government has felt it is necessary to discuss the bill among other political parties as well
Human rights activists, however, allege that the government is dilly-dallying to "kill the bill".

"The government is making excuses to abort the bill, though the past parliament had already directed for immediate ratification of the Rome Statute" says Subodh Pyakurel, president of Informal Sector Service Center (Insec), a rights group which is rallying national and international support for the ratification of the treaty in Nepal.

Pyakurel argues that ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Nepal Army (NA) are utterly against ratification of the treaty.

"They (Maoists and the NA) fear that they will be the ones to be indicted once the Rome Statute of the ICC is ratified because the two are responsible for the over 13,000 deaths during the insurgency," he says. "But what they failed to understand is that the ICC is not retrospective and it comes into effect only after 90 days of its ratification," he adds.

The initiative to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC was taken in 2006 by the government formed immediately after the success of people's movement II. A high-level committee of secretaries formed under the coordination of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs K P Oli had recommended to the government to ratify the Statute considering possible outbreak of violence. The then House of Representatives had subsequently in July 25 passed a resolution directing the government to ratify the Statute.

William R Pace, convener of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, says the government is skeptic of ratifying the Statue due to lack of knowledge about the court's jurisdiction.

"I sensed that many in Nepal have old-fashioned views that International laws have big powers. It's a serious misunderstanding," Pace, who came to Nepal in February for a week-long visit to exert pressure for ratification of the Statute, says.

Stating that the ratification of the Statue is tremendously important for the countries which are at post-conflict situations, Pace warns that failing to sign the treaty may repeat the cycle of violence. "ICC is the most democratic tool to prevent future violence. Considering Nepal's current vulnerable situation, the government should not delay in ratifying the Statute," he says

During his weeklong visit, Pace and his delegation held separate meetings with Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Gurung, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Kedar Nath Upadhyaya including civil society members to rally support for the ICC.

"But It seems the prime minister and the law minister are not willing to move forward with the issue," he says, adding, "I think they lack the understanding over criminal justice system. There is a fear that retrospective-ism of the ICC is still true."

The ICC, governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. It tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court.
The Rome Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 after 60 countries ratified it.Altogether 108 countries, including 14 Asian states have ratified the Statute of the ICC.

Insec President Pyakurel says the ratification of the Rome Statute is extremely important in the wake of escalating violence in the Tarai.
"Cambodia and Afghanistan ratified it to prevent post-conflict violence. Nepal government must realize the current vulnerable security situation and ratify it immediately," says Pyakurel.

5. Rights Groups Call to Accede to Rome Statute

Kathmandu/ 6 March
National and international rights group have met with political leader, minister and chief of National Human Rights Commission on 6 March urging them to initiate efforts to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The delegation of human rights groups met with president of Nepali of Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala, Minister for Law, Justice and Constituent Assembly Affairs Dev Gurung, Chief Commissioner of NHRC Kedarnath Upadhyaya and Chief of OHCHR-Nepal Richard Bennett.

Saying that his party is in support of acceding the Rome Statute, he expressed hope that joining ICC would also take Nepal's peace process to a conclusion.

Minister Dev Gurung said that the Nepal can accede to the Rome Statue after discussions since Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav had already table the Statute in the cabinet meeting.

NHRC chief Kedarnath Updahyaya said that Nepal should immediately join the ICC. He said that NHRC had urged the government to accede to the Rome Statute.

Saying that it is appropriate time to accede to the Rome Statute, OHCHR-Nepal chief Richard Bennett said joining ICC would prove that the Maoists-led government is against impunity and supports human rights.

The delegation included INSEC Chairperson Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Executive Director Bijay Raj Gautam, William R Pace of CICC, Evelyn Serrono of CICC Asia, Jonathan O Donohui of Amnesty International, Norman H Bose of Asian Human Rights Commission, among others.

6. Govt Can't Ratify Rome Statute Right Now: Gurung

THT Online
Kathmandu, March 7:

Minister for Law, Justice and Constituent Assembly Affairs Dev Gurung on Friday told human rights activists that the government could not ratify the Rome Statute on International Criminal Court without first discussing the issue with the political parities represented in the Constituent Assembly.
"There are many political parties in the CA. Therefore we have to seek their consent in this regard," Gurung told the rights activists when they met him on Friday, demanding immediate ratification of the Statute.

The rights activists have launches a campaign to ress the government to ratify the statute so that the past and future crimes against humanity could be tackled through the ICC.
"He told us that the previous stricture of the parliament was not sufficient to ratify the statute and a new consensus was required to ratify teh statute," rights activist Subodh Raj Pyakurel, who is also the chairman of the National Campaign for the Coalition for ICC, said. Pyakurel and William R Pace, chairman of International coordinator for International Criminal Court, separately met with Gurung, former PM Girija Prasad Koirala, NHRC Chairman Kedar Nath Upadhayay and OHCHR-Nepal chief Richard Bennett to seek their support for the ratification of the statute.
Pyakurel said Gurung, however, assured them that the government would consider the ratification once it consults with the political parties.

Former PM Koirala, however, told the team that his party was ready to raise the issue in the coming session of the parliament.

NHRC Chairman Kedar Nath Upadhayay told the rights activists that the government had recently told the commission that the ratification was under government's consideration.
OHCHR-Nepal chief Bennett said the ratification of the Statute will help address the state of impunity in the country.

7. GP Koirala meets Int'l rights delegation
Kantipur Report
KATHMANDU, March 6 - Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala Friday said that his party has been striving to end the culture of impunity. During his meeting with the delegation of visiting international rights groups, who arrived here in the capital to urge the government to accede to Rome Statute of International criminal Court (ICC), Koirala expressed his commitment to put in the maximum possible effort on his part. He said he was ready to pressure the government to approve the Rome Statute of ICC.

Saying that the peace process can move ahead only when the culture of impunity ends, the visiting delegation have said that everyone should be conscious toward it. Despite its commitment to the Rome Statute, Nepal has not has not approved it.