National

Out of cash, transitional justice bodies sit idle

  • Five months before the end of tenure, two commissions have their whole investigations pending
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Sep 18, 2018-

Less than five months to the end of the extended tenure of the two transitional justice bodies, little or no progress has been made in investigating the war-era cases of human rights violation as the government continues to delay the release of funds necessary for the process.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) have received no money for investigation despite their persistent lobbying for the funds since the beginning of the current fiscal year.

The two commissions were formed in February 2015 with a two-year mandate to probe the cases of human rights violation during the decade-long Maoist insurgency, and to recommend action against the perpetrators. With their failure to accomplish the task, their terms have been extended twice, the latest one pushing it to mid-February next year.

This means both the TRC and the CIEDP have around five months to investigate 63,000 and 3,000 cases registered to them respectively.

“We have wasted our crucial two months [of the new fiscal year] doing nothing,” Lokendra Mallick, chairman of the CIEDP, told the Post. “We had planned to complete investigation in 68 districts by now.”

Out of the total Rs130 million required for the CIEDP, the government has released Rs40 million for staff salary, and Rs30 million to pay the experts and contract officials. But officials say there is no money for travel, which is critical to the investigation of thousands of cases.

The situation at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is worse. The commission needed Rs117 million for the current fiscal year, which includes salary, travel costs, and a stipend for employees, as well as allowances for the victims who need to travel to the TRC offices to record statements. The government released Rs37.70 million from the state coffers in mid-July, while agreeing to transfer Rs80 million granted by Germany to the Peace Fund.

“We haven’t paid our contract staff such as drivers and assistants for two months,” Lila Udasi Khanal, a member of the TRC, told the Post.

Officials from both the commissions say that because extensive travel is required for the process, they cannot move investigations forward without additional funds. Though the German government has agreed to transfer the amount, it has not been deposited to the accounts of the two transitional justice bodies. “We have deployed one of our account officials to visit Finance Ministry officials to release the budget urgently,” said Mallick.

The Ministry of Law and Justice, which is the liaison ministry for the two commissions, also hasn’t taken concrete steps for easing the process. “We were busy with the drafting, and endorsement, of laws from Parliament. Now we can work to facilitate the release of budget as soon as possible,” Ramesh Dhakal, spokesperson for the ministry, told the Post.

In the three-and-a-half years since its formation, the TRC has completed a preliminary investigation into hardly 2,800 cases among the 63,000 cases filed, without probing in detail a single case. The CIEDP, which has received around 3,000 cases so far, has completed preliminary probe into 1,210 cases.

Published: 18-09-2018 07:31

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