Ministry starts process to amend bill on transitional justice lawLaw and Justice Ministry will gather suggestions from the concerned parties to finalise the amendment bill.
The Ministry of Law and Justice is preparing to gather suggestions from the concerned parties to finalise the amendment bill on Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.
The amendment has not been made despite the directive from the Supreme Court four years ago.
In 2015, the court had struck down a dozen provisions in the Act, citing that they were inconsistent with the transitional justice norms and practices, as they supported amnesty even in severe cases of human rights violations perpetrated during the decade-long insurgency.
The government in June last year made public an amendment draft that primarily focuses on reconciliation at the cost of legal prosecution. It proposes community service instead of jail terms for perpetrators.
Though the government wanted the bill to get endorsed from Parliament, it later backtracked from doing so after the conflict victims and human rights organisations expressed serious reservations.
One provision that had particularly raised an alarm among the conflict victims and the rights groups proposes a significant reduction of penalty for perpetrators of war crimes if they cooperated in the investigation process and revealed facts.
The amendment draft was prepared without consulting the concerned parties, who outright rejected it.
Following pressure from the conflict victims, human rights defenders and the international community, the government is now ready for consultations.
“We are doing our homework for the consultations to be held at the provincial level,” Man Bahadur Aryal, joint-secretary at the ministry, told the Post.
The ministry is preparing to invite 80 people, including conflict victims, representatives of the local and provincial governments, representatives from the security forces, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.
A central level consultation will be held in Kathmandu after completing the process in all the provinces, according to the ministry.
The conflict victims, human rights activists and various national and international human rights organisations have been demanding the Nepal government to amend the Act before appointing chairpersons and members in the two transitional justice bodies—Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The government is preparing to take the amendment process and the appointments in the two commissions simultaneously.
“The Law Ministry has informed us that the amendment process will start in two weeks while the two commissions will get their office-bearers within this month,” Gopal Shah, vice-chairman of the Conflict Victims National Network, told the Post.
The government in March had formed a recommendation committee, led by former Chief Justice Om Prakash Mishra, to pick the chairpersons and members of the two transitional justice bodies.
The committee, however, is yet to find suitable candidates for the commissions that are lying vacant since mid-April.
The government, through an amendment to the Act, had relieved the 10 office-bearers of the commissions, including their chairpersons, from their duties after complaints that they had failed to perform their jobs.
In a four-year tenure, the commissions had only managed to collect complaints from the persons and families victimised by the war. They had failed to investigate even a single case in that period. The two commissions have recorded around 66,000 cases of war crimes and human rights violations.