Tenure extension of transitional justice mechanisms unjustifiable: Victims

Kathmandu, Janauary 6

A day after the government decided to extend the tenure  of  the Truth Reconciliation Commission and and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform issued a press release saying the tenure extension was not justified.

CVCP drew the president’s attention to their issues. CVCP Chairperson Suman Adhikari told THT that conflict victims had lost hope that these two bodies would be able to do their assigned jobs.

“In the last three years, they did not find the truth even in four to five cases,” he added.

CVCP said in its release, that the TRC and CIEDP had neither won victims’ confidence, nor created environment for collaboration with victims. So, the government’s decision to extend the tenure of the two bodies without evaluating their work performance or amending the TRC laws to respect the Supreme Court’s 26 February 2015 verdict, would not serve the purpose of justice.

Crime against humanity, rape, murder and enforced disappearance are serious crimes under international law where amnesty is not allowed. However, torture and enforced disappearance have not been criminalised in Nepal and TRC and CIEDP have said that without criminalising these offences, they could not do their jobs.

Stating that the TRC and CIEDP had failed to prove their relevance, Adhikari said the TRC and CIEDP did not have a work plan and they had failed to manage their activities and mobilise human and financial resources to do their assigned jobs.

Another conflict victim Gyandendra Aran told THT that repeated term extension of TRC and CIEDP indicated that the two bodies were on the verge of collapse. “The government decided to extend their  tenure  by one year just to shift the blame for failure of the transitional mechanisms,” he said, adding that infighting between commissioners, lack of will to act on complaints and tendency among TRC office bearers to extend their term had affected the two transitional bodies.

“TRC has over 60,000 complaints to investigate and CIEDP 2,400, but they have not carried out even preliminary investigation,” Aran added.

CVCP demanded immediate amendment to the TRC Act, participation of victims in the justice process and change of responsibility in the transitional justice mechanisms after evaluating their performance.

TRC member Manchala Jha said that she too did not believe tenure extension would serve the purpose. “The government should have first amended the TRC laws as per the spirit of the Supreme Court’s verdict. She said the United Nations agencies had told the TRC that they would not support it if the TRC law was not amended in line with the Supreme Court’s verdict.

“Current laws define arson and seizure of property as serious crimes. Our body is not a criminal justice mechanism but a transitional justice mechanism, and therefore, we need power to grant amnesty in some cases. We also need power to order reconciliation in certain types of cases,” she said.

Attorney General Basant Ram Bhandari said his office had expedited the process of extending the tenure of the TRC and CIEDP as forging consensus among various stakeholders on the issue of amendment to the TRC Act would take time.