Kathmandu, January 22
The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons and National Network of Families of the Disappeared and Missing Persons have launched consultations on a possible collaboration with the aim of producing optimum results with the existing resources and available time.
The two transitional justice mechanisms — CIEDP and Truth and Reconciliation Commission — have got a one-year extension of tenure, with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari approving an ordinance to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2014, which governs these two transitional justice bodies, yesterday to extend the tenure of the commissions for the second time.
The commissions were formed in 2015 with a two-year term to investigate conflict-era human rights violation cases. They were awarded the first one-year extension in February 2017. Their tenure was set to expire on February 10.
As per preliminary consultations, the CIEDP and the NEFAD will jointly work to investigate complaints by reaching out to the victims, lobby for policy reforms, devise a complete reparation policy, and pressure the government and political parties to amend the Act in line with the Supreme Court’s verdict which struck down the amnesty provision in the act and ordered criminalisation of torture and disappearances.
According to discussions, the CIEDP will come up with a detailed one-year work plan by the second week of February, and the progress will be monitored quarterly. To monitor the progress, the two organisations plan to form a 20-member team — including 11 representatives from NEFAD, eight from CIEDP and one independent observer.
“Although nothing has been agreed on and consultations are under way, the commission is positive about a possible partnership with NEFAD. We aim to do maximum work in the next one year,” said CIEDP Spokesperson Prof Bishnu Pathak. “However, investigations cannot be carried out jointly into some sensitive cases.”
Pathak also said they plan to form teams which will be mobilised in all 77 districts for investigation, and CIEDP has already requested the Ministry of General Administration for necessary human resources.
According to NEFAD President Ram Kumar Bhandari, they came up with the idea of collaboration with CIEDP to make it responsible and accountable so as to realise optimum results with existing resources. He said the collaboration would also try to address issues such as CIEDP members not being clear about their roles, their loyalty to political parties and lack of effective coordination with government agencies.
“The CIEDP failed to make substantial progress in investigations even three years after its formation on the pretext of resources crunch and lack of necessary legislation,” said Bhandari. “The fact of the matter is no law has barred the CIEDP from carrying out investigation and establishing the truth.”
So the main motive of this collaboration, if it materialises, is to establish the truth and come up with a strong report.
“The absence of laws, which we have been demanding the government to adopt for long, only bars CIEDP from recommending action against the perpetrators. It does not bar it from identifying the perpetrators,” said Bhandari. “If we complete the investigation and have a strong report in hand, we can then lobby for adoption of necessary legislation.”
Bhandari said they would closely watch the CIEDP’s progress, and warned that NEFAD would walk away from the partnership if the CIEDP failed to make substantial progress as per its work schedule.
Of the total 3,093 complaints received, the CIEDP has recommended 2,258 complaints for detailed investigation after completing preliminary investigation.
Of them, detailed investigations have begun on 206 complaints.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.