TJs begin new term with little hope for resultAs their new one-year mandate started on Saturday, the two transitional justice bodies say there will not be an expected progress within the given time unless the government and the political parties immediately resolve the problems faced in the investigation of more than 60,000 cases filed by conflict victims.
As their new one-year mandate started on Saturday, the two transitional justice bodies say there will not be an expected progress within the given time unless the government and the political parties immediately resolve the problems faced in the investigation of more than 60,000 cases filed by conflict victims.
The government on Monday formally extended the terms of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons by a year for the second time after the two bodies failed to complete a single investigation in the three years since their establishment. The commissions were formed in February 2015 with a two-year mandate, which has been extended by two more years citing the lack of adequate progress in the investigation process.
Issuing a statement on Friday, the TRC asked the government to immediately address its concerns. It has asked amendments to the existing Act and regulations in line with the Supreme Court verdict, adequate staff and funds, and enough resources for its central and field offices.
“We can’t run when our legs are tied. It’s the government and the political parties concerned that need to be serious on the issue,” said Manchala Jha, a TRC member. “Having said this, I don’t say our working style is perfect. We need to change it too.”
The TRC, which has received 62,878 complaints so far, has set up field offices in the seven provinces to expedite the investigation process and assigned them 1,000 cases each to probe within three months.
However, they have hardly completed 1,300 cases in total more than six months after the assignment.
“It’s near impossible to look into all the cases in the remaining one year even if all the constraints are removed,” said a member from the commission seeking anonymity. The TRC says even as the government has sanctioned 100 staffers for it, hardly 63 have been deployed so far despite repeated requests. The field offices have neither vehicles for travel nor authority to spend without approval from the Ministry of Finance.
The story is no different at the CIEDP, which had received 3,093 cases. The commission has also not completed probe into a single case so far. It has just started a detailed probe into 207 cases.
The CIEDP, in its letter to the government, had sought three years to carry out its responsibilities, which means, like the TRC, it will not be able to complete works even within the extended period.
Victims’ groups too have concerns over the fresh tenure.
“The government shouldn’t have extended the terms without concrete assurance that the two TJ bodies can perform their job,” said Suman Adhikari, chairman of the Conflict Victims Common Platform.
- February 2015: Two commissions formed with two-year mandate
- February 2017: Term extended by one year
- February 2018: Another one-year extension of tenure