Murder redefined as ‘all kinds of killing’ from ‘act of killing under control’
The government, in a major change in the proposed bill to amend the transitional justice Act, has retained an earlier definition of murder, eliminating the possibility of amnesty for all kinds of killing.
The first draft of the amendment had limited the definition of murder to “the act of killing under control”. Stakeholders had objected that it clearly specified crimes of certain nature as pardonable. For instance, innocent people were killed in the Badarmudhe blast and Kotwada killings. In June 2005, the then rebel Maoists ambushed a passenger bus in Badarmudhe of Chitwan district, killing 39 and injuring 72 passengers. In February 2002, the then Royal Nepal Army had killed 36 construction workers in an indiscriminate shooting in Kotwada airport of Kalikot district.
National and international rights organisations have recorded casualties resulting from aerial attacks, indiscriminate shootings, bombings and cross-firings during the decade-long insurgency.
“We retained the old definition, which has been accepted by all,” said Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha, “Murder is a serious crime, which cannot be justified on any pretext.”
The amendment bill has narrowed down the list of crimes of serious rights violations from nine to four–murder, rape, enforced disappearance and torture. The act of abduction and hostage-taking, causing mutilation or disability, forceful eviction from house and land or any other kind of displacement, any inhuman acts inconsistent with the international human rights or humanitarian law and looting, possession, damage or arson of private or public property are categorised as other acts of rights violations.
The Supreme Court verdict has ruled out amnesty for serious violations of rights. There can be reconciliation in the remaining crimes that took place during the Maoist insurgency.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received 17,890 complaints of torture, 10,574 reports of murder, 102 of enforced disappearance and 295 related to incidents of sexual assault. The TRC will pass on the complaints related to enforced disappearance to the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, which has already received 2,883 complaints.
“There are still differences over some provisions in the amendment bill,” said Shrestha. “Besides, political issues overshadowed the task of finalising the draft.”
The coalition government was formed with promises of amendments to the existing legal provisions, reparation for victims and closure to insurgency cases. However, the government has failed to amend the law as well as criminalise torture and disappearance, the basic legal framework for the two commissions to function.