Editorials published in two Nepali newspapers on Monday for and against Col Kumar Lama's arrest in the UK this week.
The arrests of Colonel Kumar Lama in the UK and the murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh are positive steps forward in addressing the human rights violations during the conflict. The arrests of Colonel Lama in UK and the five convicts in Nepal have reminded us of the commitments made after the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the urgent need to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a strong mechanism to ensure justice for the victims. Had the commission and mechanisms been put in place in time, it could have helped address rampant impunity.
The arrest of the five convicts in Dailekh comes eight years after Thapa's torture and murder, so it doesn't exactly call for celebration. It is unfortunate that the victim's family had to wait for so long and also reflects the challenges in bringing war criminals to justice. It is about time the government and the political parties started acting on behalf of hundreds of Nepalis seeking justice and bringing the culprits to book.
While the arrest of Thapa's murderers has been welcomed by all, there is news about the CPN-Maoists threatening the police and journalists about the arrest of its party workers accused of Thapa's murder. The parties need to refrain from providing political protection to suspects in war crimes. It is unfortunate that the government is still not sensitive towards the formation of TRC even seven years after the signing of the peace accord. The government needs to take stern action against all those convicted and accused of human rights violation and provide victims the long overdue justice.
Editorial, Annapurna Post, 7 January
The arrest of Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama in the UK is a matter of deep concern for Nepal because it stands against the principles of international law and sovereign jurisdiction of a nation state. Lama was detained under section 134 of UK's Criminal Justices Act 1988, which allows the Metropolitan Police there to arrest individuals suspected of overseas war crimes, torture, and human rights abuses.
However the Nepal government wasn't informed prior to the arrest, making it completely wrong of the British government to arrest Lama. This is a blatant interference by the British government in Nepal's internal affairs and an attack on our sovereignty. Political parties and the people of Nepal regard this issue very seriously, and demand that Lama be released forthwith. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also submitted a strong protest note to the British government demanding the same.
Nepalis are still healing from the wounds of the decade-long conflict. Although the political parties have reached a consensus on principles to ensure justice to war victims, it has yet to be implemented. Our peace process might be moving ahead slowly, but at least it hasn't derailed. It is clear that the British government, taking advantage of Nepal's fragile political transition, made haste to arrest Lama.
There have been cases of impunity, but that doesn't give the British government the right or the authority to arrest a serving Nepali military officer. The victims on both sides of Nepal's conflict have been demanding justice for the violation of human rights during the war, and Lama's arrest and trial in UK has now created a difficult environment to address such cases.
Submitting a protest note to the British government isn't enough, the Nepal government needs to put strong diplomatic pressure at the highest levels to bring about Lama's release immediately. The government also needs to take the initiative to let the British government know that what it has done isn't acceptable to Nepal and Nepalis. The government also needs to commit to providing justice for all war crimes and punish Lama in Nepal if and when he is proven guilty.