Commissions should be made strong: TRC chairStrengthening national transitional justice mechanisms and letting them function properly is the only way to avoid trial against Nepali nationals accused of war-era crimes in foreign countries, Surya Kiran Gurung, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said on Thursday.
Strengthening national transitional justice mechanisms and letting them function properly is the only way to avoid trial against Nepali nationals accused of war-era crimes in foreign countries, Surya Kiran Gurung, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said on Thursday.
The TRC chief’s remarks come two days after a British court dropped torture charges against Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama.
The Central Criminal Court in London on Tuesday decided to terminate all the criminal proceedings against Col Lama, allowing him to walk free. He was arrested in January 2013 for allegedly torturing two detainees in the Gorusinghe barracks where he was in charge in 2005 during the decade-long conflict. He was facing torture charge on two counts. The court acquitted him in first count last month.
“Nepal should resolve the conflict-era cases at home to avoid international embarrassment,” said Gurung. “Col Lama’s trial in foreign land was the result of our failure to initiate the process to deliver justice at home,” added Gurung. “Irrespective of the outcome, Lama’s trial on foreign soil has demonstrated that conflict victims, if deprived of justice at home, can move courts abroad.”
After Col Lama’s arrest in the UK, the government in Nepal had drafted a torture bill, which is currently in Parliament. The arrest had also prompted the government to form two transitional justice bodies.
Immediately after his appointment as the chair of the commission, Gurung had told the Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of Parliament that the government should initiate the process to bring the Army official to Nepal so that he can be tried at home. His statement then had met with criticism.
“It was intended at informing the international community about Nepal’s formal initiation of transitional justice process to address conflict-era cases,” said Gurung. “I believe the message got across, but the government did not cooperate in moving the process forward as promised.”
Gurung a few days ago had warned of quitting the commission “if the government continued to ignore the calls for equipping the commission with resources”.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday told the House that his government was committed to concluding the remaining task of the peace process. “The government will expedite work to amend laws and provide resources to the commission,” PM Dahal said while addressing the House.
“I hope he keeps his word,” said Gurung.