Conflict victims warn non-cooperation to the transitional justice commission until Act is amendedChief of disappearance enquiry commission assures ‘fair and impartial investigations’.
The attempt of the Commission of the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons to engage with the conflict victims has faced a setback as they are not ready to cooperate with the transitional justice commissions until an amendment to Enforced Disappeared Enquiry and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014.
The umbrella bodies of the victims of the decade-long Maoist insurgency had boycotted the interaction called on February 13 by the disappearance enquiry commission. They are also set to snub the provincial level consultations the commission is preparing to start from Tuesday. The consultation will begin from Butwal, the headquarters of Province 5, and will be held in all provincial capitals within this month, according to the officials.
The victims have been insisting that the commissions constituted by the chairpersons and members selected based on political sharing don’t hold legal grounds to perform their duties. They have said that they won’t own any decisions by the transitional justice bodies until the Act is amended as per the Supreme Court verdict.
“We have started a non-cooperation movement against the commissions until the proper laws are in place,” said Gopal Shah, chairperson of the Conflict Victims National Network.
The Supreme Court in February 2015 issued a ruling ordering the government to revise the Act adhering to the principles of transitional justice and international practices. The verdict, which was issued in response to a writ petition from a group of 234 conflict victims, directed the government to include the provisions in the Act ensuring no amnesty in cases of serious human rights violations committed during the insurgency.
However, five years since the verdict, the government is yet to table an amendment bill apropos of the court verdict.
Yubraj Subedi, the chairperson of the disappearance enquiry commission, said they have written to the government through the ministry of law for the amendment at the earliest possible. The letter has asked the government to incorporate 14 issues, including implementation of the apex court verdict and making the reparative measures effective.
The families of disappearance and murder victims have received a relief package worth Rs 1 million each; they have not received other reparative supports. Meanwhile, the victims of torture and sexual assault haven’t gotten any support yet.
“We are aware that support of the victims and international recognition are crucial. We will work adhering to all the principle of transitional justice,” said Subedi at a press meet on Tuesday.
According to Subedi, the commission will soon resume the first phase of investigation into the complaints starting from Rolpa, one of the 11 districts where the commission has yet to complete the preliminary probe.
The commission had received 3,300 complaints; of them, 2,506 cases have been identified as genuine ones. The commission has set up five teams to resume the first phase of the investigation.
On the criticism that the office-bearers of the two commissions were appointed on the basis of political sharing, Subedi said it was wrong to give political colour to the appointments made through the recommendation of the committee led by a former chief justice.
“We are committed to conducting fair and impartial investigations,” Subedi assured.
The commission has said that the cases of mass enforced disappearances from Bhairabnath Battalion and Chisapani barrack would be investigated with high priority, and it has a ready team of experts, including forensic officers, for the exhumation of bodies.
The existing Act gives just a year for the commission to accomplish its task.