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Justice has No Root in the Nepali Polity

Prakash Bom - 2/17/2013

It is not clear whether any Nepali political movement had ever have fought against the structural injustice practice of the old regimes – (Hindu caste-based oligarchs and autocrats) embedded in the Nepali polity over centuries to repress marginalized majority populations – women, indigenous, lower-caste-Hindus, weak and disabled.

The popular movement of 2006 in collaboration with the Maoist insurgency supposed to transform Nepal, not just with the democratic republic setup but with the justice system that could implement judicial mechanisms, particularly to setup transitional justice system to address conflict-era human rights serious violations. But, unfortunately, it failed.

The Nepali polity has not yet found a fertile soil in the nation to sow a seed of justice. The culture of impunity has become the culture of polity, because both main opposition and ruling parties do not support transitional justice system for Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as per the international standards. All they want is to deliver justice their own way keeping their culture of impunity just as the old-regimes did by enforcing structural injustice to safe guard their own interests. Nothing has changed in Nepal in terms of transforming law enforcement and justice systems to even to deliver social and criminal justice in daily basis.

The existing regulations and practice encourage group of individuals at Nepal’s law enforcement (police) and justice system (courts) to rejoice the structural injustice mechanism for their own profits. The current syndicated business establishment, particularly to run public services such as mass transport in the nation is the example of such law and regulations. Syndicated businesses at public service level are run by the group of individuals for their own profit with no public safety. As a result, public feel insecure travelling with the fear of being pick-pocketed, assaulted, rubbed, and raped, particularly in big cities like Kathmandu. Crimes as such committed in daily basis along the ring-road of Kathmandu, is the example, that the media needs close attention.

The crimes in big cities are escalating because of the syndicated public service business under the structural injustice mechanism of the state. That is to say victims are always defeated due to the network of criminals and the individuals at law enforcement for the personal profits. This means the current law and its practice encourages criminals to easily commit crimes. Basically, the public life is running with the primitive instinct for survival with the drive of ‘might is right.’ This means people in public do not dare to help those who are attacked – rubbed or pick-pocketed or assaulted or raped. Instead, they run for their life.

At any level, people do not trust the law enforcement (police) and justice system in Nepal for justice to deal with their criminal cases such as assault (gang or individual), robbery, burglary, theft, pick-pocketed, rape (gang or individual) and so. This is primarily because victims are afraid of being attacked again due to the lack of public safety, and generally often they receive no justice. Public life in the entire nation has been threatened in individual basis due to the lack of public safety. Such a social anarchy prevails in society all around the nation, which makes public life in individual level anxious.

Political issue for public safety:

The public safety has not yet become political issue in Nepali polity. Political parties seem not aware or do not care about it. But the entire nation is becoming victim at this phase of democratization with the escalating crimes committed in public life by individuals and gang. It is clear that the current law, public regulations and law enforcement practice have failed to restrict both minor and major crimes in the society. Nepal needs to introduce criminal laws that meet international standard. For example, assault cases that have bodily injury, in most developed county, have up to 16 years imprisonment.

The rape is classified as sexual assault initiated by one or more person and sentence up to life imprisonment or death penalty, or less prison time if the criminal(s) agreed to a voluntary chemical castration in the United States. In most of the countries in EU, sentence depends upon the nature of the cases. But Nepal in South Asia needs to introduce the law against sexual assault, particularly against gang rape, with the life imprisonment or less imprisonment with the voluntary chemical castration.

It is time and crucial that Nepal introduces legal provision for the capital punishment to control ‘cold blooded killer’ that often occurs with the kidnap and the road-accident. The current law does not prevent or rather encourages ‘cold-blooded-killer’ in the nation, particularly on the road-accident cases. Since the syndicated public transport system is running by individual owner, driver and cruise the current law does not prevent road accident without the death. The law enforcement and justice system has plenty of cases on their table and how much the victim’s family go through trauma, it is not considered anyways. It is time for Nepali politics to consider the provision.

Since the UCPN Maoist party has after its seventh general convention fully committed to the mainstream politics and the rule of law it is urgent for the nation to create public safety to gain public trust of the people. Any political decision procrastinated by the main political parties at this point will be disastrous if they fail to form a national consensus government that will ensure elections of the Constituent Assembly to draft the statue that will eventually establish public safety for peace and development. It is time to face the ground reality that people feel frustrated with the utter lack of public safety around the nation.

In my opinion, Nepal has yet to establish the rule of law in the grass-root level and that can only be establish with the federal structural mechanism to abolish structural injustice mechanism that Nepal’s law enforcement (police) and justice system have practiced for over half a century. The centrally controlled police system must be transformed with the federal structure of each federal state with their right to self-determination and autonomy. Whether Nepal gets federated with the single identity or multiple-identity based states, each state must wisely execute their right to self-determination and autonomy to undo the current centrally controlled structural injustice mechanism with their own federated law enforcement and justice system for public safety. The main political party leaders need to look back and see how their general constituents (not the cadres) are desperate for the public safety and justice. If not they will have to pay the price in the general elections.

Prakash Bom is a freelance writer and columnist. His writings are focused on socio-political and economic issues of South Asia. He has written extensively on federalism with regards to the current political movements of Nepal. His articles are also published in American Chronicle

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