Victims push against reappointment of transitional justice body officials

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Feb 24, 2019-

As the terms of the officials of two transitional justice bodies near completion, conflict victims have demanded “a free and fair process” for appointing new chairpersons and members and called on the government not to re-appoint the incumbent officials.

Conflict victims’ organisations say since the incumbent officials were primarily responsible for the lackadaisical performance of the two transitional justice commissions, they shouldn’t be reappointed after mid-April.

The amendment to the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, which has come into effect after authentication from the President, has set mid-April as the final deadline for incumbent officials to retire.

The amendment doesn’t stop the reappointment of the incumbent officials, but they have to go through a new selection process.

The Act envisions formation of a five-member committee headed by a former Supreme Court chief justice to recommend chairpersons and members of the two commissions. The recommendation then needs Cabinet’s approval before appointment.

“We are strongly against repeating the incumbent officials. It would be meaningless to restructure the commissions if the same persons take charge again,” said Bhagiram Chaudhari, chairperson of the Conflict Victims Common Platform. He said the platform has clearly presented its stand on the issue to the government officials.

The victims’ leaders came with the demand after learning that two members from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, picked under then CPN (Maoist Centre) and Nepali Congress quotas, are lobbying for their reappointment.

The Conflict Victims National Network, another group of insurgency-era victims, also demanded that the government immediately form the recommendation committee and ensure that the appointment process is free and fair.

The network, according to General Secretary Phanindra Luitel, has decided not to be a part of the commission. He said they have made it clear to the government representatives that members of the network are not interested in getting appointments to either of the commissions.

Though TRC Chairperson Surya Kiran Gurung and member Lila Udasi Khanal have already resigned, three members and the entire team of the disappearance commission continue to hold their posts.

Following the demands from the conflict victims and a section of human rights activists, the government, through the legal amendment, decided to restructure the two commissions, and to bid farewell to the 10 officials who were appointed more than four years ago.

Four years since their formation, the commissions haven’t started detailed investigation into a single case.

The truth commission is sitting on 63,000 cases while the disappearance commission has around 2,500 cases to investigate. The new leadership will have a maximum of two years to complete the investigation and recommend penalty and reparations.

Published: 24-02-2019 10:28

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