TRC set to begin investigation ‘soon’

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
The govt approves a proposal to set up temporary bases of the TRC in seven provinces

Dec 27, 2016- The government has finally approved a proposal for setting up temporary bases of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in seven provinces to formally begin investigation into the complaints of the conflict victims. 

The transitional justice commission had forwarded the proposal to the government through the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction in September to expedite the investigation process. 
Since the government had already allotted Rs120 million for the commission, the Finance Ministry had given cold soldier to its request for additional funding to set up temporary bases. The commission had forwarded a budget proposal of Rs67.2 million for seven bases, each with a 17-member staff.
“We have our plan ready to set up these bases to begin investigation in all regions simultaneously,” said TRC Chairperson Surya Kiran Gurung, “The bases will be set up within a few weeks and complaints will be distributed to all seven provinces for investigation.”
The commission, this time, is in a position to hire required number of employees whenever the bases are set up. In its proposal, the commission had laid out a detailed plan for the bases.  
As per the provision, the government is supposed to provide the required number of staff and budget to the commission. However, the government never deputed its employees to the commission and even a few of those deputed have already been transferred to other government bodies.
Although the government had approved 100 postings for the commission, it has been working with a total of 59 staff, including office assistants. The commission will be able to hire employees on contract only if the government expresses its inability to depute its employees. 
“It is a different matter altogether regarding the proposed bases,” said Gurung, who appears encouraged with the government support. “We have already told the government in our proposal about hiring staff, which we will get from local administration 
as well.” 
The government has not been supportive of the transitional justice bodies ever since they were formed in 2014. The commission has been working only with a third of the staff workforce deemed required. It has received more than 58,000 complaints from the conflict victims. The government has allocated only half the budget it had demanded, while it has yet to streamline legal provisions as per the verdict of the Supreme Court. 
Besides, the government has not criminalised torture. An anti-torture bill registered in the Parliament Secretariat has no retrospective effect, which will not be applicable with the incidents occurred during the insurgency. 
The government has not removed the statute of limitation on reporting incidents of sexual assaults. For the first time, the incidents of rape have been reported. The rape victims were deprived of government compensation offered to the conflict victims after the peace agreement. 
The TRC is responsible to look into incidents of murder, torture, sexual assaults, property seizure, abduction, while the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) is solely responsible for investigating the incidents of disappearances. 
The CIEDP has received over 2,800 complaints, doubled the number of the disappeared maintained by the government.

Published: 27-12-2016 08:34

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