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Conflict victims seek role in transitional justice bodies appointments

  • We won’t accept the process if officials are picked without proper consultation, they warn.
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Apr 7, 2019-

Conflict victims, who have for long complained that they have been neglected, have warned that they will not accept the transitional justice process if the new leaderships in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Commission of the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons are selected without proper consultation.

They have also asked the government and the recommendation committee not to repeat past mistakes by nominating the new teams on the basis of “political sharing”. Their fresh concerns come even as the government-instituted recommendation committee is about to start preparations to appoint new officials in the two transitional bodies, which will bid farewell to the incumbent officials next week.

The incumbent chairpersons and members in the two transitional justice bodies were appointed in 2015 under political parties’ quota.

The officials, however, have faced severe criticism for failing to take forward the transitional justice process. The conflict victims have long been demanding complete restructuring of the two commissions.  

Issuing separate statements, Conflict Victims Common Platform and Conflict Victims National Network, the umbrella bodies of victims of the decade-long conflict, have demanded “adequate and meaningful consultation” while appointing officials in the transitional justice bodies.

The common platform has said those who are appointed to lead the two commissions must have expertise on human rights and transitional justice issues and should be able to internalise the sensitivity of the victims.

In the statement, it has demanded that the new leadership must be selected in a transparent and credible manner after serious and meaningful consultation with the victims and other stakeholders.

“There must not be any political influence in the appointment process,” reads the statement of the common platform.

Similarly, the common network has said the entire transitional justice process, including the selection of the new leadership, must be victim-centric. It has claimed that those who could be convicted have been influencing the process.

“We will be forced to take to the streets if unnecessary interference continues in the transitional justice process,” the common network says in its statement.

The recommendation committee, led by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra, was formed on March 25, but it has yet to start process to select the officials for the transitional bodies due to Mishra’s ill health.

Nepal’s transitional justice process has dragged on for more than a decade. While the international community has time and again called on the government to conclude the transitional justice process, there has been a lack of political will.

The government is yet to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014 in line with the Supreme Court verdict and international obligations.

On February 26, 2015, the Supreme Court had struck down the amnesty provision and said the victims’ consent was necessary for any reconciliation while clarifying that cases which are sub judice at various courts cannot be transferred to the commissions.

Although political leadership has time and again pledged to conclude the transitional justice process “at the earliest”, there has not been much progress, just as the international community has repeatedly made renewed calls to the government to ensure justice to conflict victims.

In January, weeks before the expiration of the mandates of the two transitional justice bodies, foreign missions in Kathmandu, at the initiative of the United Nations, asked the government to clarify its plans to take the transitional justice process forward and ensure broader consultation with the stakeholders.

Days after the two commissions had their mandates extended, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International and TRIAL International in February urged the Nepal government to commit to a transparent and consultative transitional justice process that complies with international law and the judgments of apex court.

The second amendment to Act in the first week of February was aimed at extending the terms of the two commissions.

During the latest amendment, the government decided not continue the existing officials in the commissions. But the Act is yet to be amended.

Prem Bahadur Khadka, a member of the recommendation committee, said a decision on consultation will be taken during the committee’s meeting. “I believe consultation is necessary but our committee needs to take a decision on this. We will start once [chairman] Mishra recovers from illness,” he told the Post.

The government has asked the committee to complete the selection process as soon as possible. The committee will call the applications from the aspirants for the chairpersons and the members of the commission. The selection team will recommend the names among the applicants after evaluating their background.

“We are aware that the competent people should be selected and we will work accordingly,” Khadka added.

The two commissions have received over 60,000 complaints, but detailed investigation into them is pending.

Published: 07-04-2019 07:15

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