End cronyism

  • The new transitional justice bodies have to be independent

May 31, 2019-

Reports that the committee formed to nominate new members to Nepal’s transitional justice bodies has been withholding its nominations waiting for major political parties to forge a consensus in sharing portfolios is disheartening, to say the least. Victims of the decade-long civil conflict—and the larger society—have been waiting over four years since the founding of the two transitional justice bodies for their work to end in a satisfactory manner. If current trends are to go by, we may have to wait much longer to even have functioning commissions, let alone witness the completion of their work.

In order to address the enforced disappearances and other human rights violations committed by the Maoists and the state during a tumultuous period in Nepal’s history, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were formed in February 2015. For the first two years, the two transitional justice bodies didn’t do anything but solicit complaints from the victims. Consequently, the government extended the terms of the two commissions in February 2018. Even this extended term has expired, as of February 2019. And in this time, the TRC has only conducted preliminary investigations on 5,000 out of a total of 63,000 complaints registered. The CIEDP hasn’t fared much better, with 800 out of 3,000 complaints still being left ignored—with the rest having just concluded the primary investigation phase.

Transitional justice is never easy. Truth and reconciliation processes all over the world have faced some form of criticism over their aims and conclusions. But here, the process has not even properly begun. The victims have blamed incompetent officials and pressure from subsequent governments for the lackadaisical performance. After much criticism and deliberation, the government passed amendments to the Enforced Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Act 2014 in February, to further increase the terms of the transitional justice bodies by a maximum of two years year, and has since formed a committee under former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra to recommend new members to the commissions.

Now, more than two months after its formation, and having received 57 applicants, the Mishra-led committee has claimed that the ‘complex selection procedure’ is to be blame for its lack of nominations. But inside sources have said that the real reason for the delay is that the committee is waiting for the top political parties to finalise a seat-sharing deal. This is a slap in the face of all stakeholders who have been waiting years for an independent and fair transitional justice mechanism. The government would do well to change course and allow for the TRC and CIEDP to complete their work without political interference. The Conflict Victims Common Platform has already splintered into two groups, with the newly formed Conflict Victims National Network already refusing to compromise on the transitional justice mechanisms. Anything short of an independent and functioning transitional justice system will be sure to create more strife.

Published: 31-05-2019 09:43

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