Transitiional Justice: Boundary dispute leaves bill to amend act in the balanceAn amendment bill to transitional justice act is unlikely to see the light of day until the debate over provincial boundary is settled.
An amendment bill to transitional justice act is unlikely to see the light of day until the debate over provincial boundary is settled.
By the time the political debate is resolved, the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) is set to expire.
The two commissions, formed to investigate the incidents occurred during the decade-long insurgency, have mandate till February 10.
Parliament has been postponed till Januray 8. It could extend further if political negotiations fail to yield results by then as the main opposition CPN-UML, which has been vehemently opposing the amendment proposal, has threatened to continue the obstruction of Parliament sessions.
“A team of ‘responsible’ officials has been working on the bill,” said Law Minister Ajaya Shankar Nayak. “We have coalition partners, opposition, national and international human rights communities to win the confidence.”
The government is required to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act as the Supreme Court had struck down a dozen of provisions of the act inconsistent with general norms of the transitional justice and international practices. Two subsequent governments formed after the court’s verdict failed to streamline the legal provisions of the laws and regulations of the transitional justice bodies that have already registered over 60,000 complaints of the victims for investigation.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also a former rebel chief, formed the current coalition with commitment to expedite the transitional justice process. But things have hardly moved forward in the six months.
The court’s objection to the proposed structure of the Special Court is the actual reason pegging back the process. The government in the amendment bill has proposed a two-tier special court comprising a trial court and an appeal court with three judges at each level. Victims can appeal at the appellate court to review a case if they are not satisfied with a verdict of the lower court. However, the court wants the appeal to be brought to the apex court.
Cases sub-judice in regular court under the proposed Special Court is another contentious issue. The existing transitional justice act does not allow the transitional justice bodies to look into the such cases at the court.
“Transitional justice is our top priority,” said Nayak, “We want to settle the conflict-related cases and help heal the wounds of the war. We are doing everything we possibly can to incorporate the concerns of all stakeholders in the amendment.”
Minister Nayak, however, is unsure when Parliament would resume and finalise the draft. Besides, the government is to criminalise torture and act of disappearance as the commissions are all set to begin investigation into the complaints by the end of this month.