Nepal: National stakeholders call for stronger criminal justice mechanisms at UNODC consultation

Kathmandu, Nepal/29 June 2024: Criminal justice reform is pivotal to societal progress, enhancing access to justice and safeguarding fundamental rights. Robust and accountable criminal justice systems are essential for protecting individual liberties and maintaining social harmony.

To this end, it is crucial to equip law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judicial personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate complex legal landscapes with precision and integrity.

Building on this, in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General, a high-level national consultation on criminal justice reform was held in Kathmandu, to identify legal and policy challenges with regard to access to justice for victims of sexual violence, polygamy, trafficking in persons, drugs and crime.

Chaired by Senior Supreme Court Judge Mr. Prakash Man Singh Raut and the Attorney General Dr. Dina Mani Pokharel, the consultation shed light on the gaps and challenges embedded within existing laws and procedures. Participants shared strategic inputs on the draft document prepared by the Office of the Attorney General Office based on discussions in a series of provincial consultations.

The consultation brought forward several recommendations, stressing the urgent need to review existing laws on rape, human trafficking, juvenile justice, drug offenses, money laundering, cybercrimes, and financial crimes. Participants concurred that such comprehensive review must be grounded in thorough research. Media trials were highlighted as a significant challenge in the criminal justice system, particularly in prosecuting gender-based violence (GBV) cases.

The consultation emphasized adopting modern investigative techniques to ensure effective investigations and prosecutions. Additionally, it called for empowering prosecutors to practice plea bargaining and diversion, particularly to safeguard the best interests of children involved in the justice system.

Participants agreed that the final document outlining these criminal justice reforms would be submitted to the Council of Ministers by the Attorney General of Nepal.

The activity contributed to SDG 5, SDG 16 and SDG 17: 

(Supported by Government of Norway)