Saturday, 12 November 2011

Facebook - United Nations For a Free Tibet - Amnesty for Dhungel ( Nepali Maoist Prime minister )

United Nations For a Free Tibet
The first meeting of the expanded cabinet of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Tuesday decided to recommend amnesty for Maoist CA member Bal Krishna Dhungel to the President. Dhungel was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonm...
ent last year by the Supreme Court.

The decision has come at a time when only a week ago, the ruling coalition had signed a deal to endorse the bill on Truth and Reconciliation Commission and conflict cases, to be dealt with as per the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Soon after being elected as the PM, Bhattarai had expressed commitment to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappeared within a month.

“This decision has questioned the honesty of the government in implementing the agreement,” says UML leader Pradip Gyawali. “The decision is against the spirit of the CPA, rule of law and international humanitarian laws.”

The seven-point agreement had come as a trust building tool to move the peace process but the cabinet decision on Tuesday has alarmed the opposition. “This decision is condemnable,” says NC chief whip Laxman Ghimire. “This is a proof that we can’t expect rule of law from this government. The government hurriedly took the decision before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed to protect Dhungel, who has been convicted of murder by the Supreme Court.”

Although the Supreme Court has slapped a life sentence on Dhungel convicting him of murder of Ujjan Kumar Shrestha in 2000, he was never arrested. “It is ridiculous that the government decides to recommend amnesty for a person who was never taken in custody even after he was convicted of murder,” says senior advocate and rights activist Nutan Thapaliya. “If we don’t oppose the decision, we will be promoting impunity.”

Dhungel won the CA election from Okhaldhunga-2 in 2008. The SC verdict came last year but the court verdict was never enforced. The UCPN (Maoist) had been trying to secure amnesty for Dhungel ever since the SC verdict.

The then home minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara had sent a proposal to the Cabinet on 10 June seeking amnesty to 23 people, including Dhungel, by invoking presidential power as per Article 151 of the Interim Constitution. He claimed that Dhungel was performing his political duty as per the order from his party and the charges against him were politically motivated.

The Maoist-led government had postponed the move to withdraw all ‘wartime political cases’ after the rights organisations and the United Nations strongly opposed the idea. The UCPN (Maoist) had signed a four-point deal with Madhesi Alliance to ensure the win of the Maoist candidate Baburam Bhattarai last month, in which both the parties had agreed to withdraw cases against their cadres filed during the insurgency period and Madhes Movement.

“The government decision is the formal beginning of giving immunity to criminals,” says lawyer Govinda Sharma Bandi, who is also the coordinator of the Transitional Justice Law Committee. “The decision has made mockery of the CPA, interim constitution, rule of law and international humanitarian laws.”

He argues the CPA has no provision for amnesty to those convicted of criminal offense. “The president should not allow this to happen,” he says. “As a patron of the constitution he reserves right to intervene into this unconstitutional move of the government. He should start consultations with experts before deciding on this.”

A Maoist lawyer and CA member Ekraj Bhandari says the government decision is a ‘positive step towards the peace process’. “The SC verdict is not irrevocable and final,” he says. “If the SC does not give justice to an innocent, there is a provision of seeking amnesty from the president in any country.”

He argues that Dhungel’s case is not a criminal offense but a purely political motivated one. He argues the state jailed Dhungel for eight years based on political ideology. He says, “The state should find out who is responsible for his plight and compensate him”.

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