Lack of designated law minister puts MoPR in quandary

  • Act amendment process stalled as commissions’ term nears end
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 29, 2017-

A draft of a bill prepared with a view to amending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act has failed to move forward for lack of a designated minister at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR).

The two transitional justice mechanisms-the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances-are guided by the TRC Act. 

With their extended term of one year set to expire on February 10, the TRC Act needs to be amended to ensure additional mandate for the two transitional justice bodies.

Besides, legislations are also required in line with the Supreme Court orders to make the TRC Act compatible with the international norms. 

According to sources, the MoPR had drafted an amendment bill in 2015 and sent it to the Ministry of Law (MoL) for its consent. But the MoL sent it back to the MoPR two months ago without any comments. The MoPR now is waiting for directives at the minister level to proceed further. But the Ministry of Law is without a dedicated minister.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba himself is looking after the Law Ministry portfolio. Other five crucial ministries, including home, are also under PM Deuba. “We are waiting from the directives from the prime minister. Further decision on the matter can be taken based on his suggestions only,” said Gajendra Thakur, secretary at the MoPR. “He (PM) might be taking suggestions from other parties before taking any decision.”

The most pressing issue for now, however, is extending the term of both the commissions for which the TRC Act needs to be amended. The TRC Act stipulates a two-year term for the transitional justice commissions with the possibility of one-year extension. The tenure of the TRC and CEIDP was extended for one year on February 10 after they completed their two-year term. 

This amendment process too has been delayed due to lack of the concerned minister. To amend the TRC Act, the government either has to issue an ordinance or wait until a new parliament comes into place.

The TRC and CIEDP have received around 63,000 complaints. Both the commissioners are, however, hamstrung by budget and resource crunch. On top of that they lack the required legislations to investigate into the war-era cases.  Two provincial offices of the TRC, however, have completed investigation into 500 cases. Officials of both the commissions say only term extension will not suffice. The legislations in line with the apex court orders are a must to ensure justice to the conflict victims, they say. “Lack of legislations is one of major reasons behind the slow progress in investigation,” said Machala Jha, a member of the TRC. 

Published: 29-11-2017 07:27

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