Transitional justice: Ministry consults top leaders on law revisionThe Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs is holding consultations with the political leadership before finalising the controversial bill to amend the Transitional Justice Act for making the law more widely acceptance.
The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs is holding consultations with the political leadership before finalising the controversial bill to amend the Transitional Justice Act for making the law more widely acceptance.
The government in June made public the zero draft of the bill, which was widely criticised for proposing reduced penalties for convicted perpetrators of the insurgency-era crimes. The criticism delayed the government’s bid to table it in the federal parliament for endorsement.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal told the Post that the ministry will hold consultation with top political leaders including those from the opposition parties for consensus before tabling the bill in Parliament.
He said that the amendment concerning the two transitional justice bodies will be carried out based on Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Supreme Court verdict, basic principles of transitional justice, stakeholders’ suggestions, the ground reality, and feedback from the international community. The apex court in 2015 struck down a dozen provisions of the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014, saying that they were inconsistent with the transitional justice norms and practices. Three years since the ruling, the Act is yet to be amended.
“We are looking for consensus from different sectors so that the transitional justice process can go ahead smoothly,” Minister Dhakal told the Post. “We are open even to an entirely new Act if required.”
In their response to the draft, conflict victims and human rights defenders have said the legislation tends to provision blanket amnesty. They argue that providing concessions to the perpetrators such as in jail term is unacceptable to them.
Representatives of the Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP), and human rights activists said the draft intends to conclude the transitional justice process by meting out symbolic punishment even for those convicted of heinous crimes during the decade-long Maoist conflict.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were formed in February 2015 with a two-year mandate to probe war-era cases of human rights violation, and to recommend action against the perpetrators.
The TRC has completed a preliminary investigation into hardly 2,800 cases among the 63,000 cases filed, without probing in detail a single case. The CIEDP, which has received around 3,000 cases so far, has completed preliminary probe into 1,210 cases.
The 22-page draft proposes changes in a majority of the 42 clauses of the Act. The draft defines conflict-era cases as “severe” and “others”, denying amnesty in cases under the first category. It says there will be no amnesty for extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, rape and torture while those involved in other criminal offences could get conditional reconciliation after fulfilling the set requirements. There would also be no statute of limitation for registering a case against the perpetrators.
However, it proposes huge reduction in penalty if a person cooperates in the investigation process and reveals facts, despite his/her involvement in a heinous crime. The draft was prepared by a team led by Attorney General Agni Kharel that had former AG Hari Phuyal, Advocate Radheshyam Adhikari, Nepali Congress leader Ramesh Lekhak and former Maoist leader Khimlal Devkota as members.
“We are aware that the Act should be victim-centric and our whole focus would be on having their consent before it lands in Parliament,” Minister Dhakal said.