Nepal Needs Holistic Approach to Missing Persons Issue

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Members of the Common Platform, a coalition of family members and groups representing victims of the 1996-2006 conflict in Nepal, have highlighted the challenge of accounting for the 1,300 people still missing from the decade-long conflict in Nepal.

Thirteen members of the Common Platform visited ICMP’s offices in Sarajevo this week, where they toured the DNA laboratory, and were briefed on ICMP’s operations around the globe before meeting members of the Regional Coordination, an organization that groups together associations of families of the missing from former Yugoslavia.

The visitors highlighted the challenges facing those who are seeking to account for the missing in Nepal, which include rugged terrain and the relative inaccessibility of many parts of the country.

Thousands of people were victims of enforced disappearance during the conflict between Maoist insurgents and the Royalist government. The conflict ended with a peace agreement that envisaged dedicated institutional mechanisms to provide access to justice for conflict victims, including families of the missing. However, the mandates of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission to Investigate Enforced Disappearances, both of which were recently established after years of political disagreement over their proper role and composition, have been criticised. Family groups say the commissions are part of a pact between the former combatants to secure immunity from prosecution for war crimes.

The Common Platform was established in September 2014, bringing together representatives of family groups from every part of the country. Its main purpose is to build the capacity of these groups to contribute to transitional justice, to support an independent process, and to develop better coordination so that family groups can lobby effectively.

Based on experiences from the Western Balkans, members of the Regional Coordination and ICMP staff stressed that only by applying a holistic approach, one that includes the rule of law, support by the state and the international community, involvement of families of the missing and the use of forensic science, can accounting for the missing be conducted in an effective and sustainable manner.

Members of the Common Platform enquired about the administration and funding of the Regional Coordination. They also wanted to know more about provisions in the countries of the Western Balkans related to reparations and compensation for families of the missing, as well as the legal status of disappeared persons.

The visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina was arranged by the UN Office in Nepal.

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