Human Rights and People's War in Nepal
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Kangaroo courts?


In Kathmandu there is spreading concern over a story carried in Tuesday's Kathmandu Post. The front page headline reads: "Special Court to try Maoists set up amid controversies". Legal experts say that this kind of court has often in the past been a tool of dictators around the world who want to circumvent their countries' established legal system, so as to harshly target certain sectors of society towards which the normal courts are perceived to be too soft.

Nepali intellectuals and human rights activists say that HMG, instead of forcing potentially dangerous "special courts "upon Nepal, should have constituted a high level judicial commission to study the functioning of the existing courts and of Nepal's entire legal system and to recommend suitable reforms. They say that. if new laws are needed to ensure justice for Nepal's population, they should have been presented to Parliament and voted on by the people's representatives.

One can think of scores of new laws that could be passed in Parliament aimed at strengthening the judicial system and ensuring justice for all. One can also think of dozens of GOOD laws which are never enforced such as the law providing for compensation for victims of torture, and other laws relating to human rights A strengthening of libel laws and marked increase of punishment for libel is imperative to ensure a responsible press, for example. It should also be made a crime for police to re-arrest citizens whose release has been ordered by the court.

Four years ago this very reporter wrote about being stuck in a chukka jam caused by a government vehicle which hit a child and then backed up and tried to kill him. The law that provides a set compensation for killing someone on the highway but forces coverage of all the victims medical bills has led to hundreds of horrendous reports of the wanton killing of victims of road accidents who could otherwise have recuperated in hospitals This law and many others are laws which should be rectified, and or replaced. There is plenty of work which can be done to improve the present legal system without installing a "special court" of dubious merit.

Before we think of convening SPECIAL courts we should streamline and reform our EXISTING courts. And more important than enacting NEW laws is to ensure strict enforcement of EXISTING laws.

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