CIEDP asks complainants to provide further information

- DEWAN RAI, LALITPUR
The commission, which has received 2,893 complaints so far, has sent letters to all the petitioners across the country

Oct 18, 2016-After the first screening of complaints, the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons has dispatched letters to all the applicants requesting additional information and evidences, if any, related to their case.

The commission has requested those having registered complaints of disappearance of their relatives to furnish details related to their cases within 15 days of receiving the letter.

“The letters are an acknowledgement of their complaints,” said Mahesh Sharma Poudel, secretary at the commission. “Besides, the commission wanted to reach out to the petitioners to win their confidence that an investigation into their cases is going on.”

The commission, which has received 2,893 complaints so far, has sent letters to all the petitioners across the country. The petitioners can either report the commission through post or present themselves to its office to supply additional information, if any, before the commission starts its “detailed investigation” into the cases next month.

The commission, formed to investigate into conflict-era cases and recommend action against rights violations, has a shortage of staff and necessary legal measures to do its work.

Registration of complaints from conflict victims is the only accomplishment of the commission in the past 19 months. The delay in investigation into incidents of enforced disappearance and the lack of law to punish the perpetrators worries conflict victims.

The government has yet to criminalise the act of disappearance. The commission lacks the required number of staff to look into the complaints. It has been functioning with only a third of the required workforce. The government has also not allocated funds as demanded.

“We have registered complaints with all the evidences against the accused. The courage and will of the commission to take up the cases is the need of the hour,” said Ram Kumar Bhandari, chairperson of the National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing.

Victims’ community still has no confidence in the commission’s courage to enter the barracks of the security agencies, particularly the Nepal Army. The National Human Rights Commission, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and other rights organisations have documented a number of incidents of illegal detention and disappearances by security agencies. Bhairabnath Battalion, Maharajgunj; Chisapani Barracks, Banke; Charali Barracks, Jhapa; and the Army barracks in Khairenitar, Tanahu, Surkhet, Dhading and Bardiya have recorded the highest number of disappearances.

“We have the list of alleged perpetrators too,” said Bhandari. “For instance, Lalitpur police chief SSP Pitambar Adhikari is responsible for the disappearance of my father. If the commission really wants to investigate into the cases, we are ready to cooperate.”

Armed personnel had arrested his father, Tej Bahadur Bhandari, in Besishahar, blind-folded and tortured him on the streets in broad daylight in 2001, which has been documented by the national rights body as well as other rights organisations. In 20014, the UN Human Rights Committee asked the Nepal government to investigate the extrajudicial arrests, torture and enforced disappearances of Tej Bahadur Bhandari, Gyanendra Tripathi and Jit Man Basnet.

The commission has been assuring the conflict victims of investigation into all the complaints and action against the perpetrators. “This process is also a verification of the complaints we have received,” said Poudel. “We will investigate all the cases.”

The Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, which provided compensation to the conflict victims, has maintained a record of 1,475 disappeared persons. An updated report of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nepal Red Cross Society has put the number of missing persons at 1,334, which is half the number of complaints received so far.

Published: 18-10-2016 07:41

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