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February 7, 2019

War crimes investigations: Nepal extends deadline

World

February 7, 2019

KATHMANDU: Nepal on Wednesday approved a third extension for commissions tasked with probing crimes committed during its decade-long civil war, promising changes to make the hamstrung bodies effective.

The commissions had initially been given two years in 2015 to probe abuses by government forces and Maoist rebels during the conflict that left 17,000 dead and others missing without a trace.

But even after four years and two extensions, their mandates were to expire on Saturday without resolving a single case. A parliament meeting passed an amendment to the Transitional Justice Act that allowed a year’s extension.

Law minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said in his parliament address that the terms of the commissions had to be extended to avoid a legal vacuum.

"The government understands that lawmakers are concerned the issues may not be resolved with the existing structure, working approach and speed of the two commissions... we are committed to finding a permanent solution," he said.

More than 65,000 complaints have been filed to the two commissions -- one investigating an estimated 3,000 forced disappearances and the other focusing on crimes such as rape and murder. Critics say the truth and reconciliation process has been poorly designed from the outset and stymied by a lack of funding and political will.

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