Advocating for Real Rights Now: Briefing to the Human Rights Committee

Advocating for Real Rights Now: Briefing to the Human Rights Committee

Participants at Meeting with Human Rights Committee, Geneva (c) TRIAL

On 3 November 2015, representatives from TRIAL, REDRESS and Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance organized a meeting in Geneva with members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) to address “Challenges to the Implementation of Human Rights Committee Views: the Case of Nepal.”

Despite 11 individual cases decided by the HRC between 2008 and 2015 on Nepal, the translation of those decisions into justice has been almost nonexistent. As a result, victims of human rights violations are consistently denied the rights recognized by the HRC, and have not received adequate redress or effective reparation. Moreover, no perpetrator of such crimes has been brought to justice and the Government has not put in place mechanisms to avoid similar violations in future.

Urgent action must therefore be taken in order to foster implementation of international human rights bodies’ recommendations. The Geneva meeting allowed participants to engage in a much needed dialogue about current efforts in support of the execution of international decisions, as well as obstacles hindering implementation.

As victims’ representatives, TRIAL and REDRESS stressed that the challenges in relation to implementation are systemic and pervade all realms of political as well as judicial institutions. Promotion of individuals accused of serious human rights violations was seen as a particularly worrying example of the government’s lack of commitment to address relevant issues. Consequently, civil society organizations and victims face numerous obstacles in their quest for justice. For instance, speakers deplored a lack of willingness to engage in a productive dialogue with victims – or their representatives – which reflected a lack of political will to address the decisions of international human rights bodies. Despite regular submissions of letters and meetings with different Ministries, these actions have not resulted in any concrete commitment on the part of the government.

In addition, speakers underlined a lack of knowledge on one hand, and insufficient coordination on the other: governmental agencies do not coordinate their actions and there is no clear interlocutor responsible for implementation. Speakers raised concerns in relation to the recurrent referral of cases to ineffective and inadequate transitional justice bodies, in contravention of the HRC’s recommendations. Lack of specificity in relation to reparation measures granted by the HRC was further identified as a factor which adds to difficulties in achieving implementation. As a result, failure to provide victims with a fair remedy and to properly investigate, as well as prosecute, perpetrators prevails.

Several Committee members, including Chairperson Mr. Fabián Salvioli and Rapporteur on Follow-up on Views Mr. Victor Manuel Rodríguez-Rescia, attended the event. They favorably welcomed the possibility, put forward by the speakers, to consider mechanisms adopted by other systems – or regions – that have helped to encourage effective implementation of international human rights decisions. Finally, there was a positive discussion on how the HRC mechanism could be improved and a number of suggestions were expressed including greater specification in the drafting of recommendations in order to prevent misunderstandings, general guidelines for reparation measures, and modifications of the follow-up procedures so as to promote dialogue with Nepalese authorities. The Petitions and Inquiries Section and the Secretariat of the Committee also engaged positively in the meeting.

The first event of its sort, the informal briefing drew particularly positive feedback: civil society organizers were encouraged to continue their work on implementation and hold similar meetings for other countries.