Nepal's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sujata Koirala, took an important step towards ending impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on Sunday, in a meeting with delegates from Amnesty International Nepal.
The Minister gave Amnesty International a commitment to start the process for Nepal to ratify the Rome Statute. By ratifying, Nepal would join 110 other countries in committing to a new system of international justice.
The meeting marked the third anniversary of a resolution adopted by Nepal's parliament – the Constituent Assembly – calling for Nepal to ratify the Rome Statute. Previous governments failed to take the issue forward.
"Amnesty International urges the Minister to take immediate steps to ensure that Nepal ratifies the Rome Statute as soon as possible," said Madhu Malhotra, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Programme. "In particular, we encourage the government to submit the issue of ratification with its full support to the Constituent Assembly."
By ratifying, the government would accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute future crimes (committed after ratification), if Nepal's authorities or courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
"Ratification of the Rome Statute is significant for Nepal which has recently emerged from a conflict during which thousands of people were killed, disappeared and tortured," said Madhu Malhotra.
Although ratification of the Rome Statute will not enable the ICC to investigate and prosecute crimes of the past – which must be addressed by other mechanisms - it is an important step to deter such crimes from ever being committed again in Nepal and to ensure that, if they do occur, there will be no impunity.
During the meeting, Amnesty International Nepal presented the Minister with more than 13,000 appeal letters that the organization has collected in recent months from Nepalese citizens and Amnesty International members around the world.