In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched an insurgency to overthrow the Nepali government. Over the next ten years, 17,000 people were killed and at least 1,500 were forcibly disappeared during the “People’s War.” Nepal’s impoverished and rural districts experienced the majority of the fighting, and as a result, suffered the majority of the casualties.
The conflict ended in 2006 when the CPN-M and a coalition of parliamentary parties signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. In addition to abolishing the monarchy and calling for a constitutional assembly, the agreement mandated the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to investigate the human rights abuses committed by both sides during the conflict.
The Nepali parliament passed the Truth and Reconciliation Act in 2013, which would establish a commission to investigate wartime crimes. However, the Nepal Supreme Court struck down this act, ruling that it violated international law for providing amnesty to perpetrators of grave human rights abuses. A new bill was passed in 2014 establishing the current Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the Commission on the Investigation of Enforced Disappearances. However, it remains controversial as human rights activists argue that it still offers amnesty to perpetrators.
Despite the flaws in the current mandate, NEFAD believes that these commissions offer an unprecedented opportunity to investigate crimes committed during the insurgency era. NEFAD remains critically engaged with the commissions, supporting their efforts when possible, and speaking out when necessary.
NEFAD supports the commissions in investigating disappearances in the following ways:
- Encouraging victims in rural districts to register complaints with the commissions through education and outreach campaigns
- Holding the commissions accountable to their mandates by speaking out against amnesty and impunity
- Representing the interests of rural victims and families at the national level of the transitional justice process