The government on Thursday extended the terms of two commissions formed to investigate human rights abuses committed during the decade-long insurgency.
A brief meeting of the Cabinet decided to extend the terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) by a year during which they have to study and investigate around 60,000 complaints related to murders, rapes and disappearances.
The commissions, formed in February 2015 with a two-year mandate, however, are hamstrung by a lack of laws, funds and human resources.
They were set up under legislation that allows amnesties for perpetrators. The government is yet to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, to bring the legislation line with Supreme Court orders and Nepal’s obligations under international law.
Supreme Court’s January 2015 orders striking down around a dozen provisions have been ignored so far, much to the chagrin of conflict victims and rights defenders. The court had ordered to criminalise torture and disappearances and remove the statute of limitation for registering conflict-era cases. The court had also ruled out amnesties for perpetrators of grave human rights violation.
The Cabinet decision to extend the mandates of the two commissions will not mean much unless they are empowered with required laws, rights activists said on Thursday, pointing out a lack of political will.
“The government has neither amended legislation nor enacted required laws in line with court orders,” said rights lawyer Govinda Bandi. “These commissions have to rely on the government approval for its staff and budget. The commissions also lack experts,” he added.
The TRC has received over 58,000 complaints while the CIEDP has to look into around 3,000 cases.
Suman Adhikari, president of Conflict Victims Common Platform, described Thursday’s government decision of extending the terms of the two commissions by one year as formality. “There is nothing to rejoice as far as conflict victims are concerned, as the government has extended the mandates without making public the achievements of the commissions and plan of action.”
CIEDP Chairman Lokendra Mallick, however, hoped that the government would in a week or two provide the commissions with the legal framework and logistics so that they could complete their tasks.
“We will try our best to complete our tasks within the mandate,” he said. TRC member Manchala Jha said one year will not be sufficient for the commission to investigate around 58,000 cases.