Complaints registered with transitional justice bodies to be sealed until new leadership assumes office

  • Office bearers at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons will retire on April 14
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Apr 2, 2019-

As the current leadership at two transitional justice commissions is set to retire in two weeks, conflict victims and human rights defenders have expressed concerns over security and confidentiality of the complaints filed at the two offices.

Office bearers at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons will retire in the second week of this month. Though the government has formed a recommendation committee under former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra, the chances of it recommending officials for the two commissions are slim. This could leave the commissions without officials for a few weeks.

In the five-member recommendation committee, one member is either the chair of the National Human Rights Commission or a member recommended by him. According to sources, there is no confirmation from the NHRC yet.

Officials said they are working on ways to maintain secrecy and confidentiality of the complaints filed by the conflict victims.  

The victim’s groups and rights defenders fear confidentiality breach if the cases reach the hands of bureaucracy, which works for the government.

Bureaucracy might work at the behest of the government in the absence of chairpersons and the members who are retiring on April 14 following the second amendment to the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014, they say.

Gopal Shah, vice-chair of the Conflict Victims National Network, said they have asked the government and political leadership to make sure the complaints are in safe hands—and not in the hands of bureaucracy—until new officials assume office.

“We are not confident that bureaucracy can work independently,” he told the Post. The leadership from the Conflict Victims Common Platform, another umbrella body of the victims, has also expressed similar fear.

IB Gurung, a member of the Commission of Investigation Enforced Disappeared Persons, said they are planning to seal the rooms, where the complaints are stored, only to be opened by the new leadership.

“We need to assure the victims that their complaints are safe and are kept confidential,” Gurung told the Post. He, however, said it might not be possible to allow the National Human Rights Commission for monitoring, as demanded by the victims and human rights defenders, because their existing Act does not give the space for it.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received around 63,000 complaints which are stored at its central office in Babarmahal and its seven provincial offices.

Since the CIEDP does not have field offices, all 3,000 complaints filed with it are at the central office in Pulchowk.

Shree Krishna Subedi, a member of the TRC, said they want that the commission not to remain without officials.

“We urge the government and the recommendation committee to ensure new leadership is selected before we retire,” he told the Post. “Vacuum in the commission could give room for questions about secrecy and confidentiality of thousands of the complaints.”

Subedi said if the new leadership is not ready before April 13, they might go for sealing the complaints as per the demand of the victims and human rights activists.

Both the commissions are also preparing to submit a report compiling the works they have done in the last four years to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

“We will submit the report the day Oli gives us time,” Gurung told the Post.

Published: 02-04-2019 08:11

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