TJ bodies divided over extra tenureA crucial meeting of the transitional justice bodies on Friday decided to hold another round of discussion on whether to extend their tenure as some members of the two commissions stood against a possible one-year extension of their mandate.
A crucial meeting of the transitional justice bodies on Friday decided to hold another round of discussion on whether to extend their tenure as some members of the two commissions stood against a possible one-year extension of their mandate.
During the meeting, some members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) expressed reservations over tenure extension in the existing situation while some others spoke in favour of it, officials said.
The mandate of the TRC and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), formed to investigate into conflict-era cases, expires on February 10. As per the law, the commissions’ terms can be extended by one year on their request if necessary.
TRC Chair Surya Kiran Gurung argues that tenure extension alone will not help the commissions deliver justice given the government’s slow pace of streamlining the legal framework and providing the bodies with resources. The government did not amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act in two years, let alone enact laws criminalising the act of disappearance and torture.
The understaffed commissions have not got funds enough to hire experts for investigation. The TRC has made it clear that the government should amend and enact laws required to handle the complaints registered from conflict victims before the term may be extended.
“We are not confident that the government will do in one year what it could not do in the past two years,” said Gurung. “We decided to discuss the agenda within our respective commissions once again before deciding on tenure extension.”
The TRC’s stance has put the CIEDP in a dilemma. The latter has already prepared a plan of action for three years. In case the TRC is dissolved, the government may not give continuity to the other commission alone.
“We have no option other than extending the tenure as we have already taken complaints from conflict victims,” said a member who did not want to be named.
A constitution amendment bill and other bills related to the election are pending in Parliament. “It’s a common practice that the bills tabled in Parliament get precedence,” said Law Minister Ajay Shankar Nayak.
“But that does not mean the transitional justice Act amendment bill is less in priority. The tenure extension should not be a problem as the Cabinet can take a decision as required.”