Human wrongs

  • A failed transitional justice process will make families of conflict victims more disenchanted

Jul 19, 2016-

The two-year mandate of the two transitional justice bodies—Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP)—will expire in seven months. For much of their term, the bodies were unable to start work, as the government did not provide them with offices, staff members and other resources. 

Five months ago, the commissions began their work in earnest. Three months ago, they opened the war-era complaint registration process, which came to a close on Sunday after having received over 55,000 applications. This shows how much the victims’ families want the process to be completed.Yet the commissions only have seven months to investigate and close these thousands of cases. 

That is not all. The two commissions are still toothless. As we wrote in these pages on April 19, there is an urgent need to pass laws criminalising enforced disappearances, torture, rape and other gross human rights violations. The laws also need to define the status of conflict victims and provide a clear basis for reparation. 

The Chairman of the TRC, Surya Kiran Gurung, is still confident about completing the work within the remaining time. But there is a caveat—the government needs to cooperate and provide adequate resources, including the legal framework, to speed up the process. 

The two governments that the commissions have seen since their formation have done everything to handicap their work. Many had hopes that during the tenure of the government led by the CPN-UML—which was not a party to the conflict, as much as the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre)—the commissions would receive support to expedite their work. 

But the Oli government seemed more interested in leveraging the fear among top Maoist leaders for their war-era records in order to ensure its longevity, rather than putting up a transitional justice mechanism in place. 

With the imminent change in government now, there is fear that both the deficiencies of the commissions and the agenda of transitional justice will lose focus once again. The NC and CPN-Maoist Centre have agreed to expedite the TRC-related work in their seven-point agreement and NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi told this paper as much in an interview this week.

We call on the NC and Maoist leaders, particularly Maoist Centre Chairman Dahal, who is most likely to head the next government, to empower the two commissions. If deemed necessary, they should even extend the term of the commissions. Failure to ensure progress in the transitional justice process will only deepen disillusionment among the families of the conflict victims, and history will hold the current political class responsible for its abject failure to heal the war-era wounds. 

Published: 19-07-2016 10:44

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