U.S. Involvement in Nepal Army Integration?
Posted by Admin on July 24, 2009
This article was published on eKantipur.
US Congress gets tough on aid to Nepal Army
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KATHMANDU, July 21 – The US Congress has imposed conditions on the military assistance it provides to Nepal.
These conditions, made in the S.1434 bill, approved by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations on July 9, states that American military aid to Nepal will be contingent on Nepal Army’s (NA’s) cooperation with civilian judicial authorities into investigations of human rights violations, the progress made by the NA in redefining its mission, undergoing reform to strengthen civilian control and facilitation of the integration of Maoist combatants into the NA.
The S.1434 bill lists planned expenditures for the US Department of State, foreign operations and related programmes for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010. The bill says that all funding provided to Nepal under the heading “Foreign Military Financing Programme” will be provided if the US Secretary of State certifies to the Committee on Appropriations that the Nepali armed forces are cooperating fully with investigations and prosecutions by civilian judicial authorities of violations of internationally recognised human rights. The bill also requires the armed forces to be working constructively to redefine its mission, implement reforms including establishment of a civilian ministry of defence to su-pport budget transparency and accountability, and facilitate the assimilation of former rebel combatants into the forces consistent with the goals of reconciliation, peace and stability.
However, these conditions are not to apply to the assistance the US provides the Army for international peacekeeping, humanitarian relief and reconstruction operations.
In a July 9 statement, US Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is Chairman of the Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, applauded the bill. Sen. Leahy has long paid close attention to developments in Nepal and has strongly insisted on steps to combat impunity.
In an op-ed article published in The Kathmandu Post on Feb. 27, he said powerful forces can become accustomed to acting above the law to protect their interests.
He added: “But any student of history knows that governments ignore impunity at their peril. Without justice, democracy cannot develop. As others have pointed out, not a single person has been prosecuted for a major human rights crime — before, during or since the end of the conflict.”
More often, political parties demand the release of their supporters instead of supporting the machinery of justice, he observed. “The Army and the Maoists have acted to perpetuate impunity. The lack of accountability impedes reconciliation and contributes to the continuing use of violence, undermining the rule of law and the peace process.”
In 2004, when the then Royal Nepal Army was implicated in widespread atrocities, Sen. Leahy wrote a law that blocked US military aid to Nepal. “I did not renew the law after the peace agreement was signed,” he wrote in the Feb. 27 article, “and today the army is again requesting aid from the US to participate in UN peace-keeping — which we, in principle, su-pport. How the army cooperates with civilian prosecutors in Maina Sunuwar’s case and the many others like hers will weigh heavily in our decision.”