OAG begins preparations for revising transitional justice act

Kathmandu, March 1

The Office of the Attorney General has begun preparations for the adoption of necessary legislation, lack of which has hamstrung the two transitional justice mechanisms — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons.

The commissions, as well as victims, have long been demanding that the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2014 be amended in line with the Supreme Court verdict and the commissions be equipped with necessary resources, both human and financial.

The Supreme Court has ruled that there should not be amnesty for grave human rights violations such as extra-judicial killing, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other acts of sexual violence; the statute of limitations for grave offences must be removed; cases recommended by the TRC and the CIEDP must be prosecuted; torture and enforced disappearance must be criminalised through the enactment of laws; cases before court cannot be transferred to the TRC or the CIEDP; dignified and respectable reparation for victims; and reconciliation cannot be made without the consent of victims.

The CIEDP has also demanded that the government bring clarity to provisions related to transfer of property of the disappeared to their family members, and put in place a provision that the compensation amount be distributed among family members of the victims, among other things. Presently, the compensation goes to the nearest kin of the victims.

Attorney General Agni Kharel said he had expedited meetings with stakeholders, including the members of the commissions and victims, to ascertain what was to be done to make the commissions more effective.

“Things are at preliminary stages. After a new law minister is appointed, the process of amending the act will be expedited,” said Kharel. “We will not only focus on amendment to the act, but also a gamut of things such as how can we make the commissions more effective. I will effectively play whatever role I have to as an attorney general to address the issues plaguing the commissions.”

Even after three years of their formation, the TRC and the CIEDP have failed to completely investigate even a single complaint. They have blamed lack of necessary legislation and the government’s failure to provide adequate human and financial resources for their failure.

Of the total 3,093 complaints received, the CIEDP has recommended 2,258 complaints for detailed investigations after completing preliminary investigations. Of them, detailed investigations have begun into around 250 complaints as of December 15.

On the other hand, the TRC has received more than 60,000 complaints and it is currently investigating into 7,000 of them —1,000 complaints from each of the seven provinces. It has set up an office in each province for the job. TRC is also planning to set up offices in each of the 77 districts to expedite investigations.

The government has extended the tenure of the TRC and the CIEDP for the second time by one year until February 10, 2019.

However, both the commissions have said they would not be able not complete investigations no matter how many times the term was extended if political parties and the government did not cooperate in addressing issues plaguing the CIEDP such as the crunch of human and financial resources and lack of necessary laws.