Conflict victims draw UN chief’s attention to their plightSeek to meet visiting secretary general in person. Successive governments have remained reluctant to make good on the promises made in the 2006 peace accord, they say.
The high-level visit by the UN Secretary General António Guterres has been an opportunity for the victims from the Maoist insurgency to draw his attention to their long struggle for justice.
In the first week of October, the Conflict Victims Common Platform and the Conflict Victims National Network, two different organisations of the victims, had urged Guterres to press the government to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act to ensure a victim-centric resolution. They had written to him through the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Kathmandu a week before his visit, which was slated to begin on October 13. The trip was postponed following the escalation in the Israel-Palenstine conflict.
They had jointly urged the UN chief to utilise the powers of his office to reiterate to the government of Nepal the importance of expediting the resolution of Nepal's longstanding transitional justice concerns, amend the Act with the full incorporation of our concerns, ensure victim-centric and credible transitional justice process that thousands of victims finally receive the truth and justice they deserve.
In their letter, the victims recalled how successive governments remained reluctant to implement the promises of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end impunity, uncover the truth, and respect victims’ rights to justice.
“As a result of the absence of substantial justice, truth and reparative measures including adequate compensation, individuals affected by the conflict and their families have endured profound challenges in many aspects of their lives. Tragically, some of them have lost their lives while pursuing justice, and their descendants have taken up the cause in their memory while some are tragically living without treatment. Thousands of victims of murder, disappearance, sexual violence, beating and mutilation, torture and abduction, and hostage and displacement, longing for truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence are tired of the repeated commitments that are yet not duly fulfilled,” the victims said.
A week later, another organisation of the victims urged Guterres to use his office to help expedite the long-stalled process. “In the absence of effective measures to address harms we suffered, they are compounded and multiplied as each year passes. So many victims are now living in situations of extreme deprivation, unable to meet their basic needs. In this context, the Kathmandu-based prosecution versus amnesty debate further frustrates the grassroots victims. Any intervention that further delays the process would have an adverse impact on the needs of the victim. We therefore urge the secretary general to use his good office to expedite the process,” read one of the points of the memorandum submitted by the National Network of Victims and Survivors of Serious Human Rights Abuses (NNVS) through the UN resident coordinator’s office on October 12.
The NNVS said while the amendment bill to the Act is progressive, it still has a couple of issues that need to be addressed. “We therefore urge the secretary general to use his good office to encourage all stakeholders of the process to expedite the parliamentary process to pass the bill without any further delay,” it said.
On the eve of Guterres’ visit to Kathmandu on Sunday, Discharged People's Liberation Army, an association of former Maoist child combatants, also drew his attention to use his position and influence to exert pressure on the government of Nepal to fulfil its legal and humanitarian obligations and respond to their demands. “The United Nations, having certified our presence through the UNMIN verification exercise, has a duty to ensure that we child soldiers are regarded as true stakeholders in the peace process,” reads a point in the statement issued by Lenin Bista, founding chair of the Discharged People's Liberation Army.
It has urged the UN chief to call upon the Nepal government to rectify its position that denies the existence of child combatants during the 1995-2006 conflict, and to provide appropriate support and resources for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society. “Upon your return to New York, secretary general, we ask you to keep engaged with the matter of child soldiers of Nepal, so that the government may fulfil any commitments it does make to you. We ask you to stand in solidarity with us, the former Maoist child soldiers of Nepal, as we struggle to fashion a future for ourselves—international humanitarian law and natural justice demand nothing less,” the statement further reads.
The victims said while they believe that the UN secretary general understands their appeal, they were looking forward to meeting him in person to draw his attention to the matter first-hand. “We welcome his statement that the UN was ready to support Nepal to develop the transitional justice process to the international standards, the Supreme Court’s rulings and the needs of victims,” Suman Adhikari, founding chair of the Conflict Victims Common Platform, told the Post. “However, we are disappointed that he is not meeting the victims and civil society, but only the government representatives.”