Although politics is the central nervous system of the overall human society, it becomes the most dangerous thing when it is highly criminalized. Should politics be captured by money-mongering adventurists, nothing in human society will remain within the human ethical framework. Self-destructive thoughts and actions result from criminalized politics.
To prevent human politics from becoming a complete business of criminal forces, research, public debates and action-oriented advocacy are necessary.
Criminalization of politics and impunity are global problems. Hence the need of global attention to such isssues. However, people of every country have the social responsibility of bringing such concerns to the fore.
An example of how criminalization of politics and impunity not only impede the overall development process but also create political instability, public insecurity and a man-eat-man atmosphere can be seen in Nepal.
Many political leaders, still in power, had claimed more than five decades ago that the Nepalis got democracy. They had said so without understanding the core concept of democracy. They understood democracy only as a speech platform with little or no concern for people’s daily life. Therefore, they did not bother to reach the grassroot people with genuine democracy. Democracy for several decades became a subject of luxurious and happy-go-lucky speakers. It was like a fancy storytelling episode.
During the 30-year partyless Panchayat rule, democracy was no more than a publicity strategy for hereditary monarchial rule. Those who joined the monarchial circle exercised hard to teach the Nepalis that democracy and monarchy were inseparable from each other. Consequently, every mechanism of Nepal was dictated by monarchy. To lead state mechanism, leaders had to be extremely loyal to monarchy. Even the Nepali Congress and the United Marxist-Leninist (UML) worked hard to re-strengthen the feudal monarchy. They spent more than a decade on this pro-monarchy exercise.
So far, the forces that reached state power had a misconception that everything was right for people when they were in power and everything was wrong for people when they were out of power. They saw criminalization of politics when not in state power. They could not see the same problem when in state power. This sight defect has contributed to the reinforcement of criminalization process.
When the Ranas captured power from the Shahs in 1846, the Shah dynasty holders thought the Rana rulers were criminals. The court massacre carried out by Jung Bahadur Rana while capturing power was obviously a criminal act. The Ranas did so by taking advantage of the serious contradictions existing in the Shah dynasty.
When the people removed the Ranas from power in 1951, the Shah dynasty got their power back. During their heydays, the members of the Shah dynasty committed crimes against the people. All such crimes committed under the umbrella of the Panchayat democracy were immunized. Consequently, no investigations were possible.
The Mallik probe commission formed to investigate the crimes against humanity during the 49-day people’s political movement recommended legal actions against many human rights violators. But the post-movement government and the opposition parties, viz., NC and UML in the main, immunized them in the name of liberalism.
When democrats took over power in the post-1990 period, the trends of human rights violations went on as usual. So did the trend of impunity.
No different situation has been felt even after the collapse of monarchy after the 19-day historical April uprising in 2006. The interim government has not acted to end the existing situation of impunity. The Rayamajihi probe commission report that recommended legal actions against crimes against humanity has been neglected. This is one more repetition for prolonging impunity.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) openly massacred 28 civilians at Gaur of Rautahat on 21 March 2007.The security mechanism even did not accept the information report about the incident. This is a vivid instance of how the state has intentionally served the culture of impunity.
Even those jailed and heavily fined for major national corruption scandals were made candidates in the election of the constituent assembly meant to rectify and restructure Nepal. They were jailed and freed within a few months. People have taken it as an impunity case. Their candidature in the glorious constituent assembly poll meant a further step to consolidate the existing level of impunity. Unless this culture of impunity is broken, criminalization of national politics cannot be curbed.
People want to see big criminals behind bars, not in the forefront of politics or honor. The constitutional guarantee that every citizen, regardless of any other background, is equal before law continues being humiliated as long as certain big criminals obtain impunity while innocent citizens are victimized instead. The continuity of the culture of impunity means the continuity of the criminalization of politics.
The continuity of the criminalization of politics means more violation of human rights. Thus, the criminalization of politics and the culture of impunity are today’s major human rights concerns deserving adequate attention of not only human rights institutions and professional advocates but also of political forces as well as media.
The culture of impunity, conflagrating violence and conflicts, is a clear threat to humanity. Critical humanists, in the main, have to deal with this issue with comprehensive attention.