Justice not possible without amendment

Kathmandu, June 26

The Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Surya Kiran Gurung today said that the government must amend the TRC Act soon or else its work might be adversely affected.

The TRC has already started investigation from its provincial offices.

Gurung said the TRC Act needed to be amended to clearly state that there would be no amnesty for four offences — rape, murder, enforced disappearance and crime against humanity.

“If our TRC Act is not in conformity with the international law, the victims and international rights body might question our work,” he added.

Gurung said the government needed to clearly define, serious offence, offence of serious nature and serious violation of human rights as there was no clear definition of these terms under the existing TRC Act.

Gurung said the TRC Act categorised nine crimes — murder, abduction and taking of hostage, enforced disappearance, causing mutilation or disability, physical or mental torture, rape and sexual violence, looting, possession, damage or arson of private or public property, forceful eviction from house and land or any other kind of displacement.

Gurung said the current act did not give the commission the power to recommend reconciliation even in cases of forceful eviction, threat and possession.

Gurung said the OHCHR had already said in 2012 that it had taken notice of some of the serious human rights

violations and if the TRC did not address them and other cases of serious human rights violations, then the UN body could raise question over the TRC’s work.

He further said the torture bill registered by the government in the Parliament only proposed to criminalise torture committed by the state but not by individuals. “During conflict, torture was inflicted by both the state and the

rebels. If this bill is passed without criminalising torture committed by individuals, then the bill cannot address conflict era rights violation cases,” he added.

Gurung said amendments to homicide and rape law were necessary. Under the existing laws, a rape victim must file an FIR within six months, and therefore, rape victims cannot get justice under the existing laws, he argued.

Gurung also said that under the existing laws, in the case of murder, FIR must be filed within 20 years. “But we are investigating cases of   murder that were committed more than 20 years ago,” he added.

Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha said he had prepared a draft bill to amend the TRC Act after consulting all the stakeholders and the government would soon register it in the Parliament. Shrestha said the draft bill proposed to remove the statute of limitation for serious crimes and there would be no amnesty for serious offences. He also said that the draft bill provisioned to criminalise torture and enforced disappearance.

Shrestha also said that the draft bill also stated that if a person was made to disappear for a short time — for a few hours or for a day or two, then that would fall under the TRC’s jurisdiction and not that of the Commission of Investigation on the Enforced Disappeared Persons. “The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government could not register the bill in the Parliament but the new government will do it soon,” he said.