The Accountability Watch Committee (AWC), a network of human rights groups and victims of the conflict of Nepal, has demanded that the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) withdraw its invitation to House Speaker Agni Sapkota to attend its 143rd assembly that begins Friday in Madrid.

Sapkota left for Spain on Wednesday evening. He is leading a 10-member team which comprises parliamentarians and officials from the parliament secretariat.

AWC has written an open letter to the President of IPU Duarte Pacheco, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno and Ambassador to India and Nepal José María Ridao Domínguez asking that Sapkota not be invited to the conference.

“We ask the Government of Spain to direct its immigration authorities not only to refuse Mr Sapkota entry into the country but also to open an investigation under the principles of Universal Jurisdiction, given the continuing investigation in Nepal in relation to international crimes committed during Nepal’s conflict,’ wrote AWC coordinator Charan Prasai.

“Despite the order of the Supreme Court requiring impartial and prompt investigation and an arrest warrant pending against him, investigations have not proceeded for more than a decade nor has he been arrested. Meanwhile, even as Mr Sapkota’s political career has progressed, as far as the Nepal Police administration is concerned, he still cannot be located,” the letter states.

Speaker Sapkota is alleged to have been involved in the April 2005 abduction, torture, disappearance, killing and illegal burial of Arjun Bahadur Lama, a civic leader from Kavre district.

During conflict years, Sapkota was a central committee member and leader of the underground Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) in Sindhupalchok district. He was elected as Speaker in January 2020 amidst protests against his candidacy.

The court hearings on petitions against him have been deferred for more than 25 times.

Rights organizations that signed the letter include Advocacy Forum-Nepal, Amnesty International Nepal, Bandurmudhe Ghatana Pidit Samiti, Conflict Victim Women National Network, Conflict Victims Common Platform, Conflict Victims National Alliance, Conflict Victims Orphans Society, Conflict Victims Society for Justice, Conflict Victims’ Rights Forum, Myagdi, Democratic Freedom and Human Rights Institute, Ganesh Ujjan Foundation, Human Rights and Justice Centre, Human Rights for Justice, Human Rights Organizations Nepal, Informal Sector Service Centre, Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre Nepal, Maina Bal Bikash Samiti, Nagarik Aawaz, National Alliance of Women Human Rights Defenders, National Network of Disabled Conflict Victims, Nepal Forum for Restorative Justice, Tarangini Foundation, The Story Kitchen, and Voices of Women Media.

Nepal this week marks the 15th anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Accord between Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, effectively ending the insurgency in which at least 17,000 people were killed, and more than 2,000 are still missing.