The victims and human rights defenders reject transitional justice commission’s request for supportTwo months after formation the commissions are yet to commence their job.
Two months have passed since the two transitional justice commissions got their new office-bearers, but they are yet to formally commence their jobs, as the conflict victims and civil society have refused to cooperate.
Conflict victims and civil society members have been saying that unless the government amends the Enforced Disappearance Enquiry and the Truth Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014, they will not cooperate.
Although the Supreme Court in 2015 had ordered the government to revise around a dozen provisions in the Act, the ruling has not yet been implemented.
The victim’s organisations say they have decided not to cooperate with the commissions unless the law is revisited in the spirit of the court’s ruling.
“We are not going to support the commissions without the amended law in place,” Bhagiram Chaudhari, chairperson of Conflict Victims’ Common Platform, told the Post.
The conflict victims also have taken exception to the appointments in the two transitional justice commissions.
A recommendation committee led by a former chief justice on January 18 had picked the chairpersons and the members of the commissions based on political sharing amid reservations voiced by the conflict victims, civil society leaders and international human rights organisations.
The conflict victims, civil society leaders and rights watchdog had called for making amendments to the Act in line with the apex court’s ruling before appointing officials in the two transitional bodies.
Following the appointment of office-bearers, the two commissions— Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons—have been holding consultations with the conflict victims in all seven provinces. Participation of conflict victims in most of these consultations has been low.
The truth commission has held the meetings with the concerned parties in Dang, Dipayal, Surkhet, Janakpur and Biratnagar while the disappearance commission has already organised the consultations in Janakpur and Butwal.
The Conflict Victim’s Common Platform and the Conflict Victim’s National Network, two bodies representing the conflict victims, had asked their members not to participate in the consultations.
“Our members didn’t participate in these consultations,” Gopal Shah, chairperson of the network, told the Post.
Human rights defenders have also refused to participate. They, too, have demanded the government and the two commissions to first amend the Act and ensure that the transitional justice process is victim-centric.
“I had received calls from the commissions last week asking for my support. I clearly told them that the human rights community can’t stand with them.” Charan Prasain, a human rights defenders, told the Post.
The officials of the commissions say they also want the government to amend the Act as soon as possible.
Gobinda Gautam, a member of the truth commission, said they had met newly appointed Minister for Law and Justice Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe asking to expedite the amendment process.
“We agree with the victims that it is already late for the amendment,” he told the Post. Gautam said the truth commission hasn’t yet commenced its work as it is still studying where to begin.
He said it would take them some time to start the investigation process.
The commission has received over 63,000 complaints. The previous team that retired in April last year could hardly conduct preliminary investigations of around 5,000 cases. The commissions formed in February 2015 have only a year to accomplish their jobs.
The conflict victims say the two commissions are not doing enough to build confidence among larger groups.
“They (commissions) are approaching the victims at the individual level just to show that they have consulted with the victims,” said Chaudhari of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform.
The officials of the commission, however, say they are aware that winning the confidence of the conflict victims is crucial for the validation of their works, and they are making every possible attempt for it.
Sunil Ranjan Singh, a member of the disappearance commission, said they were moving ahead as per the suggestions from the stakeholders.
He said while that the Act must be revised in order to book the perpetrators, the present law does not stop the commissions from finding out the truth.
“We are planning to resume the preliminary investigation from Rolpa within a few days,” he told the Post.
The commission has 2,506 cases that need investigation.