Lawmakers make 26 proposals

- Pranab Kharel, Kathmandu

Apr 23, 2014-

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) bill tabled in parliament last week has seen more than two dozen amendment proposals, including the one that requires the Attorney General (AG) to mandatorily file cases forwarded by the TRC.

Currently, the bill on Commission on Investigation of Missing Persons, Truth and Reconciliation leaves it to the government’s chief legal advisor enjoying the discretionary authority to decide the status of cases filed with the TRC. The Supreme Court in its January verdict had called for “amending’ the discretionary power vested on the AG.

As of Wednesday evening, the bill saw 26 amendment proposals registered with the Parliament Secretariat, including the one that calls for inserting the term ‘enforced disappearance’ instead of ‘missing person’ to the name of the bill itself.

Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party lawmaker Prem Suwal registered the amendment proposal on pardoning. In his proposal, he has argued that no pardon should be offered for serious human rights violations such as murder, abduction, hostage taking, mental or physical torture, rape, arson and forced displacement, as mentioned in Section 2 (j) of the bill.

Suwal has sought to expand the purview of serious crimes, as mentioned in Section 26(2), which only explicitly mentions rape.

UML lawmaker Chudamani BK Jangali has sought to incorporate the provision of not allowing reconciliation in crimes that are serious in nature. Jangali has called for amending Section 22(2) of the bill that states “the commission can initiate reconciliation between victim and perpetrator by asking the latter to express remorse for the wrong deed.”

Rights activists have flayed the provision calling it a “forced reconciliation” where the commission and not the victim gets to decide who initiates reconciliation.

The amendment proposals will be discussed in the parliament session scheduled for Friday. The bill has already received wide support from cross-party lawmakers increasing the prospect of early passage of the bill, though the discussion on the amendments could delay the process.

The bill has come under criticism from right watchdogs who argue that the bill leaves room for amnesty even in serious crimes. The government, however, maintains that it has brought the bill in line with the apex court verdict that had stressed that reconciliation should be the major focus of the TRC bill.

Government officials maintain that the TRC bill complies with the SC verdict in meeting both the international standards on human rights and the reconcilation process initiated between the state and non-state actors through the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  

Still, observers maintain that provisions relating to pardon and reconciliation continue to be a major bone of contention, especially the role of victim in the process. “If one looks at the provision on reconciliation, it is to be initiated by commission and could be termed as forced because it doesn’t talk about victim’s consent in that regard,” said Sunil Pokharel, General Secretary of Nepal Bar Association.    

Proposed amendments to TRC bill

- Two commissions on truth, reconciliation and disappearances

- Victims' consent necessary for pardoning perpetrators

- Outlines serious cases of human rights violations

- TRC to forge reconciliation among victims, perpetrators

- Commission to recommend for reparation

- AG empowered to file cases despite court reservations

Published: 24-04-2014 08:14

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