Valley

Transitional justice Act amendment, appointment of officials to go together

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Apr 3, 2019-

The government is preparing to take the amendment process of the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014, and the selection of new office-bearers for the two transitional justice bodies simultaneously.

The draft will be put for discussion with the conflict victims and human rights defenders once it has been approved by the top leaderships of major political parties. In the meantime, the government will be selecting new leaderships for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, said Ramesh Dhakal, secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office.  

The incumbent officials at the two transitional justice bodies will retire in mid-April.

The recommendation committee led by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra will start selecting new chairpersons and members of the two commissions from Wednesday.

The conflict victims and the National Human Rights Commission had earlier demanded that the government prioritise the Act amendment while also selecting the new leaderships of the two transitional justice bodies.

Just a few days ago, National Human Rights Chairman Anup Raj Sharma had asked Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to ensure that the Act is amended as per the apex court verdict without any delay.

“He (PM) assured me that the amendment draft will be made public for discussion within a few days and it will move together with the selection of new leaderships in the commissions,” Sharma told the Post.

Officials involved in the drafting of the amendment bill say they are in the final stages of completing the draft.

A team comprising government officials and leaders from the ruling Nepal Communist Party and the opposition, Nepali Congress, has listed 21 issues to be incorporated in the draft bill.

Though the panel broadly agrees on the major issues included in the draft, the top leaderships of the NCP and the NC are yet to give their assent.

“We are currently in the process of securing consensus of the cross parties on the draft,” Dhakal told the Post.

The bill will be presented in the next session of Parliament, which is likely to convene in April end.

The Supreme Court in 2015 had struck down almost a dozen provisions in the existing Act and sought clarity on the categorisation of serious crimes, serious human rights violations and other crimes of serious nature.

The Act is ambiguous on the matter and opens door for amnesty even in serious cases of human rights violation, the court had ruled.

An amendment draft presented by the government last year was again rejected by the conflict victims and human rights defenders as it proposed reducing punishment to the convicted perpetrators of war crimes. For instance, it had proposed community services and monetary fine to the perpetrators for cooperating in the investigation process.

The much-maligned amendment draft prescribing lenient punishment for serious crimes and grave human rights violations was ultimately retracted.

Sources familiar with the drafting process of the latest amendment draft say the document is being finalised by correcting all the “shortcomings” that were pointed out by the conflict victims and human rights defenders.

It will ensure no amnesty in murder, rape and sexual abuse, forceful disappearance and torture cases, said an official, who did not wish to be named citing sensitivity of the matter.

The bar for the maximum penalty in such cases will be fixed after consultation with the stakeholders, the official added.

The draft also sets the criteria for reparation and proposes formation of a special court to adjudicate the cases investigated by the two commissions.

Published: 03-04-2019 07:01

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