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Swiss bankroll leaders’ Bangkok junket

Nov 16. 2018
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By The Kathmandu Post
Asia News Network

Second-rung leaders from the major Nepal parties will spend six days discussing transitional justice

A senior official warns that the Swiss initiative could ignite competition among other governments and international agencies to influence the process

Nov 16, 2018-A team of second-rung leaders is flying to Bangkok on Swiss government funding in an initiative officials say could bring together major political parties on transitional justice.

A senior official at the Swiss Embassy in Kathmandu confirmed to the Post

that about 12 people, including six influential leaders from the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the Nepali Congress, will be in Bangkok for six days starting November 25.

NCP leaders Subas Nembang, Bhim Rawal, Barsha Man Pun and Shakti Basnet and Nepali Congress leaders Ramesh Lekhak and Minendra Rijal are among those leaving for Thailand.

Accompanying them will be human rights activist and adviser to the President Sushil Pyakurel. The Swiss official said Nembang, Rawal, Lekhak, Rijal and Pyakurel have confirmed their participation and the embassy is awaiting confirmation from others, including members of the civil society.

The sponsored junket comes at a time when a section of civil society members is working with top leaders from the major parties to move forward the process of transitional justice.

The Swiss Embassy is already supporting a section of civil society leaders’ attempt to organise conflict victims and help them come up with a unanimous voice on demands for justice.

A former senior government official told the Post that the leaders’ participation in the trip begins the process of forging common understanding among the parties and forming a political mechanism to facilitate the transitional justice process.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned that the Swiss initiative could ignite competition among other governments and the international agencies to influence the process.

“Unwanted international concern could derail the process further,” the official said. “It should be clear that the lesser the foreign influence, the easier we can conclude the ongoing process.”

Defending the programme, Swiss officials said their government was clear that the transitional justice process should be driven by Nepal itself and that it was only extending support when required.

Talking to the Post, Tshewang Ngudup, a political adviser at the Swiss Embassy, said the programme was supported by Dealing with the Past, a division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs which works with countries around the world to address issues of human rights and infringement on international humanitarian laws.

Supporting Nepal’s transitional justice process is one of the major strategies of the Swiss government, which aided the peace process since its beginning in 2006. The country’s three-year strategy for Nepal, Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2018-21, envisions providing support both to the victims and the government in establishing lasting peace.

The only other country attending the Bangkok event is the Philippines, whose representatives will interact with Nepali leaders and share their experiences on transitional justice and reconciliation.

Three international experts from Switzerland, South Africa and the Philippines are scheduled to speak on transitional justice.

“The programme will basically be a learning and sharing platform,” Ngudup told the Post. He said Bangkok was chosen for the event as it would be a convenient location for the participants. NC leader Rijal said they expect to learn different aspects of transitional justice and practices around the world.

“We expect the event will increase our understanding of transitional justice,” he told the Post.

“That could be beneficial for taking forward the ongoing process here.”


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