House panel directs govt to amend TRC ActThe Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of Parliament has directed the government to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014 (TRC Act) and bring other necessary laws for smooth functioning of the transitional justice bodies.
The Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of Parliament has directed the government to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014 (TRC Act) and bring other necessary laws for smooth functioning of the transitional justice bodies.
At a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Peace, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and the Ministry of Law on Wednesday, the House committee reminded them of its earlier instructions to streamline legal framework in line with the Supreme Court verdicts and the existing international practices.
The committee has already issued the same directive to the government twice in 18 months since the formation of the transitional justice bodies. It has already held four meetings with commissioners and government officials on logistics and legal frameworks of the commissions.
On August 3, the Home committee had directed the government authorities to provide logistics to the transitional justice bodies within 15 days for smooth functioning of the commissions. The government changed two days after the instruction. The committee members harbour doubts the government would take them seriously this time around.
“The issue of transitional justice is an agenda of national importance because of a simple fact that it is one of the components of the peace process,” said committee Chair Sushil Kumar Shrestha. “It is also a crucial process in the post-conflict countries to heal the wounds of war. It is sad that we should remind them their responsibilities.”
Last year, the apex court had struck down almost a dozen provisions of the existing act, saying that they were inconsistent with transitional justice norms and practices. Besides, the government has not criminalised the act of torture and disappearances, in the absence of which the transitional justice bodies remain ineffective.
The subsequent governments have been ignoring the concerns of the commissions formed to look into the conflict-era cases. The commissions have received more than 60,000 complaints but have only six months’ time to look into them. Both the commissions are understaffed and low on budget to carry out investigations. Shrestha argued that the government has made mockery of the House committee by ignoring its directives. “It’s not just our Committee, the government has been disregarding the directives of other parliamentary committees as well,” he said. “Sometimes, lawmakers as well as government officials even refused to attend the meeting.”
Fifteen committees have been formed to monitor government’s activities and advise it on different issues. However, the government has been ignoring the instruction of the committees.
The government has been conveniently dodging the issues of human rights, including the latest recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In 16-year history of the constitutional body, no NHRC report has ever made it to Parliament for discussion.
Article 294 of the constitution states that the constitutional body submits its annual reports to the President, who will forward it to Parliament through the prime minister for discussion.
“We remind the President to forward the report to Parliament. Also, we have not seen anyone question the government for circumventing the process,” said Mohna Ansari, NHRC spokesperson.
The government has implemented only 104 out of 738 recommendations made by the NHRC, most of which are related to compensation. But, it claims to have implemented around 30 percent of the recommendations made by the constitutional body.