Rift surfaces in committee to select transitional justice commission officialsCommittee members are at odds over the selection criteria, chairman fails to rise to the occasion.
Disagreement among some members over the selection criteria has created a rift in the recommendation committee that was formed to select new officials for the two transitional justice commissions.
Following demands from the victims and some members, the committee in July had assigned its member Prakash Osti to prepare the criteria. Osti, who represents the National Human Rights Commission in the committee, formulated the selection criteria for the new leadership.
Ram Nath Mainali, who is close to then CPN (Maoist Centre) and Prem Bahadur Khadka, who was picked under Nepali Congress quota, sought 15 days to study the proposed criteria which is just two pages.
But after 15 days, the two members said the proposal from Osti was not complete, hence one more criterion needs to be formulated. The committee then assigned Mainali to draft another one. When he presented the draft, the committee assigned Khadka and another member Sharmila Karki to finalise the report on the basis of the one presented by Osti and Mainali.
Though they have finalised the criteria, the meeting of the committee has not been called for the last three weeks. The meeting scheduled for Tuesday was postponed without any reason. “We could have endorsed the criteria had the meeting been held on Tuesday,” Karki told the Post.
Officials familiar with the development say the motive behind assigning one after another member to draft the selection criteria is for recommending the name without the standard in place. “The members close to the parties say having the criteria in place will bar the committee from recommending the names directly picked by their parties,” said an official seeking anonymity because he feared retribution.
The committee, formed in March under former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra, has not recommended the names even five months after its formation, as it waits parties to finalise the names.
“The meetings are called and postponed without giving us any reasons. In principle, the committee is independent, but in practice, it does not look so,” Osti told the Post.
Officials say Mishra has been working as per the wish of Mainali and Khadka who want the committee to function at the behest of their parties.
“I am surprised how feeble the former chief justice is. He has completely failed as a leader,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
Mainali denied the claim but said the criteria prepared by Karki and Khadka might not be endorsed. He said the names of chairpersons and members could be recommended without the criteria in place.
Repeated attempts to reach out to Mishra went in vain, as his mobile phone was switched off.
The parties on August 27 had agreed to name former attorney general Raman Shrestha as the chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) though he has publicly rejected the offer. The TRC and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons are vacant since April 14 after the chairpersons and members were relieved of their duties through an amendment to the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014.
Following the politicisation in the appointment process, the constitutional human rights watchdog has warned of recalling its member, Osti, from the committee if the recommendation committee fails to maintain its impartiality.
The victims of the decade-long Maoist insurgency are also demanding that the new leadership be picked on merit. They have warned that they will not accept the leadership selected as per political parties’ wish.