Conflict victims divided over amendment billWhile most victims insist on amendment, a section calls for speedy passage of the disputed bill.
Divisions have emerged among the victims of the Maoist insurgency over the new amendment bill on the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.
While a section of the victims was staging demonstration in Kathmandu on Wednesday demanding a revision of the bill, another group of victims was holding a press conference saying the bill must not be delayed under any pretext.
Addressing the press, Ram Bhandari, coordinator of the newly formed National Network of the Victims of Serious Human Rights Violation, accused some non-governmental organisations and ‘interest’ groups of ‘hijacking’ the victims’ agenda and obstructing the transitional justice process.
“We welcome the government’s move to present the victim-centric bill in Parliament. It must be endorsed,” he said. “Its endorsement from Parliament shouldn’t be stalled under any pretext.”
However, a large section of the victims has been saying the bill should not be endorsed without revising several provisions that give leeway for amnesty even for serious violations of human rights. They are demanding that murder be listed as a serious violation of human rights and perpetrators be prosecuted. As the ruling alliance is preparing to fast-track the passage of the bill, they have started street protests in Kathmandu and provincial headquarters.
“Victims' quest for justice cannot be addressed without proper law in place. One who wants justice cannot agree with the bill in the present form,” Janak Raut, former general secretary of the Conflict Victims Common Platform, told the Post. “We will continue street protests and lobbying at different levels for the bill’s revision.”
They have been lobbying cross-party lawmakers to revise the bill.
The House on Monday approved a proposal to consider the bill, allowing the lawmakers to table amendments to the bill. The bill, registered in the House on March 19, has met with criticism from various quarters. Besides the victims and human rights activists, several rights organisations too have objected to the bill.
On Wednesday, the victims who faced atrocities at the hands of then Maoist revolutionaries met Speaker Devraj Ghimire and urged him to take necessary action to ensure a revision. They told him that they had no hope of justice from Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the CPN (Maoist Centre) chair. “This bill needs amendment, but the government was not going to do so,” read their statement calling for Ghimire’s help.
Bhandari, however, said delaying the endorsement of the bills would eventually delay the process of truth seeking and reparation. “If we focus only on prosecution, the process of truth seeking and reparations too will be obstructed. Reparations are the immediate need of the victims and the law needs to be revised for that,” said Bhandari. “However, some actors who benefit by delaying the transitional justice process, don’t want that to happen.”
However, not everyone buys his argument. Raut said giving up the demand for prosecution in exchange for reparations is against the principle of justice. “We cannot forgive the perpetrators in exchange for reparations. We are not for sale,” he said.