Kathmandu, January 29
The government has decided to extend the tenure of members of the two transitional justice commissions till April 13, and tenure of the commissions by a year with provision for an additional one-year extension.
A meeting of the Cabinet yesterday took a decision to this effect. The extended tenure of the two commissions formed in February 2015 is expiring on February 9.
The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs today forwarded a bill to amend the Transitional Justice Act to the Federal Parliament with provisions that separate the tenure of the commission members from the tenure of the commissions, said Dhan Raj Gyawali, spokesperson for the ministry.
As per the new provision if the tenure of the commission members expires or all the posts of members remain vacant, the commissions will still remain intact and the government can make new appointments through a Cabinet decision. As per the existing act, members would continue to hold their posts till the tenure of the commissions, and the commissions would be scrapped if the posts remain vacant.
The new provision now allows the government to restructure the two commissions — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons — after April 13. Conflict victims have also been demanding restructuring of the commissions.
The bill, however, does not address the victims’ other demands such as amending the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2014 in line with the Supreme Court’s verdicts and international standards. A section of victims have also demanded formation of a high-level mechanism to oversee the entire transitional justice process.
Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Ramesh Dhakal, who is actively involved in the act amendment process, said this bill only extended the tenure of the commissions and members to ensure that there remained no vacuum after the expiry of their term, and to allow some time for holding consultations with stakeholders for a full amendment addressing the victims’ demands. “We will continue consultations with the victims and other stakeholders, on the basis of which a full amendment to the act will be done,” he said.
Conflict victims welcomed the government’s decision. Suman Adhikari, former chairman of the Conflict Victims Common Platform that demands formation of the high-level mechanism, said the government should expedite consultations with stakeholders, and amend the act and restructure the commissions to make them trustworthy on the basis of consensus.
Ram Bhandari, adviser to the Conflict Victims National Network that is opposed to the idea of high-level mechanism, also said that the government should now work to make consultations broad based to address deficiencies in the act through amendment. He said the commissions should also be restructured by appointing competent commissioners in a transparent manner and should be strengthened by equipping them with all necessary resources.
A version of this article appears in print on January 30, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.