Call for competent people in transitional justice bodies

  • Faulty process was responsible for picking inept people in the past, rights defender says
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Apr 13, 2019-

The four-year tenure of the incumbent leadership of the two transitional justice commissions, which was largely unsuccessful, formally came to an end on Friday, leaving both the bodies vacant.

The recommendation committee led by former Chief Justice Om Prakash Mishra has already called for applications from interested candidates and around a dozen people, including retired judges, have applied for the positions in the five days since the vacancies were called. As the selection of the new team begins, human rights defenders and conflict victims have cautioned the government and the recommendation committee to select a competent team, after meaningful consultation, and after making sure the candidates’ merit will be taken into account and not their political affiliation.

 In an interaction on Friday, representatives from victims’ community and human rights activists asked the Mishra-led panel to ensure that stakeholders will be selected in a transparent manner. They have also demanded that a standard be set for the selection of chairpersons and members, and a thorough evaluation be made of their competence and expertise before recommending them for the selection.

“Faulty selection process was responsible for picking incompetent people in the past. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistake,” Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, a human rights defender who was present in the interaction, told the Post.

The chairperson and the members of two commissions, who retired on Friday, were selected in February, 2015, on the basis of political sharing among major political parties. And although some of them had good legal background, most of them didn’t.

The leadership from the two commissions was given two years to complete their investigation into the war-era cases of human rights violations and recommend the actions against the perpetrators.

However, neither the Truth and Reconciliation Commission nor the Commission of the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Person could complete investigation into a single case in more than four years since their formation. The leadership from both the commissions could only collect the complaints from the victims during the insurgency with no progress in the investigation. Among around 63,000 cases, the TRC has hardly completed preliminary investigation of some 5,000 cases while CIEDP has done preliminary investigation into some 2,200 cases among 3,100 it received.

Govind Bandi, a human rights activist who has fought the cases in the courts seeking justice to the victims, said completion of the investigation process is not possible in the lack of competent team in place. “The recommendation team needs to take all the stakeholders into confidence before selecting the new leadership,” he told the Post.

The umbrella bodies of the victims from the insurgency have threatened to not accept the new leadership that is selected without their consent. In Friday’s interaction, they presented their demands to Mishra. Among their list of demands, victims have warned that the recommendation committee will have to take responsibility if it fails to maintain transparency in the selection process. “Competent people might not apply. Therefore, we have asked the committee to go beyond the applicants before recommendation,” Suman Adhikari, former chairperson of Conflict Victims Common Platform, told the Post.

 Officials at the secretariat of the recommendation committee said 12 people, including three retired judges of the High Courts and former government secretaries, have applied. “We are expecting more applicants, as there are still three days for the deadline,” said Rajaram Dahal, an officer at the secretariat.

 Members of the recommendation said they have taken serious note of the feedback from the victims’ committee and the human rights defenders, and will take them into consideration before recommendation.

“The selection process will be fully transparent as per the aspiration of the stakeholders,” Sharmila Karki, a member of the committee told the Post.

Published: 13-04-2019 10:19

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