Transitional justice bodies failing to give fair deal to victims: ICJ

Kathmandu, August 8

Nepal’s transitional justice mechanisms must undergo serious reform in line with international human rights standards and the directives of Supreme Court in order to provide justice for victims of conflict-era human rights violations and abuses, the International Commission of Jurists said in a discussion paper released today.

ICJ’s discussion paper ‘Nepal’s Transitional Justice Process: Challenges and Future Strategy’ summarises the key challenges faced by Nepal’s transitional justice process as identified by conflict victims, representatives of human rights organisations, lawyers and other stakeholders during consultations held in Pokhara, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj and a round-table meeting in Kathmandu in May and June.

The discussion paper concludes with the identification of strategies for civil society organisations and victims’ representatives to address the challenges of Nepal’s transitional justice process. “The voices heard in our consultations provide a stark reminder that more than 10 years after the conflict and over two years since the commissions were established, victims of serious human rights violations and abuses are still searching for justice,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Director for Asia and the Pacific.

The discussions reaffirm ICJ’s own assessment that the transitional justice mechanisms, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappeared Persons have fallen short of international standards, despite the repeated reinforcement of such standards by the SC. The commissions have a flawed legal mandate, which, among other problems, allows them to recommend amnesties for serious human rights violations and abuses.

In addition, their non-consultative, uncoordinated and opaque approach to their work has also created distrust among major stakeholders, it claimed.

As of July 2017, the TRC has received 58,052 complaints of human rights violations, and the CIEDP has received 2,874 complaints of alleged enforced disappearances. Since the ICJ held its consultations on the operation of the transitional justice mechanisms, the commissions have started preliminary investigations in some of the cases.

However, according to information received by the ICJ, these investigations also suffer from flaws as the investigation teams do not have human and financial resources to handle the large number of cases and there are concerns about the opacity of the appointment process of investigators.