Conflict victims’ long wait for justice

Kathmandu, November 20

It’s been 12 years since the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed by the government and Maoist rebels in 2006, but the conflict victims’ wait for justice seems far from over.

Although the tasks related to army integration and constitution promulgation have been completed, the major task of the peace process, transitional justice, has made little headway. The government formed two transitional justice mechanisms —Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons — in 2015.

However, the two commissions’ work over the years has been limited to collecting complaints (around 65,000) from the victims, thanks to politicking, lack of necessary legislation, government control of the commissions financially and internal weaknesses of the commissions.

“The government formed the commissions not with the intention of delivering justice to victims, but just to show the international community,” said Devi Sunuwar, mother of Maina Sunuwar who was killed by Nepali Army in 2004 in Kavrepalanchowk.

Stating that the present political transformation had been achieved at the expense of thousands of lives, Sunuwar warned of another conflict if political parties continued to ‘humiliate’ the victims and protect the perpetrators.

“The state should understand what this transformation is for,” she said at a national conference of conflict victims organised in Kathmandu today. “We want nothing, but a dignified life and rule of law.”

Conflict Victims’ Common Platform Chairman Bhagiram Chaudhary regretted that they were being termed ‘victims’ despite their immense contribution to the transformation. “The state and political parties are trying to appease us just by offering some relief,” he said.

Rights activist Kapil Shrestha said, “The government should not appease victims, but deliver justice.”