Victims reject draft amendment

There will be no punishment left after waiving 75pc sentence

Kathmandu, June 29

Conflict victims have rejected the draft amendment to transitional justice act that addressed none of their demands, while National Human Rights Commission Chairman Anup Raj Sharma has termed the draft ‘translated’ and ‘guided by a motive’.

The Cabinet yesterday decided to table the first amendment bill on the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.

As per the bill, perpetrators will not get amnesty in serious human rights violations but could get waiver in sentences as per the prevailing laws — up to 60 per cent if they did not reveal the truth and did not assist the court, but if they assisted the court, revealed the truth, apologised to the victims and pledged not to commit such crimes again, they could get up to 75 per cent punishment waiver.

The bill, which proposes to have retroactive effect, also proposes a maximum jail term of three years in other crimes, and provisions withdrawal of cases lodged by police officials against Maoist cadres. Perpetrators of other crimes could also be sent to open prison if they helped the cause of transitional justice and assisted the investigation.

The victims said the draft was prepared without consulting them and that it addressed none of their four major demands — making public the status of those disappeared, honouring those killed, providing guardianship to victims’ families and bringing perpetrators to book.

They added that it was not clear whether the bill just governed the two transitional justice mechanisms — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons — or the entire transitional justice issue which also included security forces and child soldiers.

The victims demanded that since the security personnel lost lives while serving the state, they should not be left out of the process.

Expressing reservations over the provision of punishment waiver and open prison, Conflict Victims Common Platform Chairman Bhagi Ram Chaudhary said it was nothing but a ploy to provide immunity to the perpetrators.

“After waiving 75 per cent of the sentence and other departmental actions faced by the perpetrators, there will virtually be no punishment left,” he said at an interaction held today at the National Human Rights Commission. “Cases related to serious human rights violations should be addressed through the criminal justice system,” he added.

Victims added that symbolic punishment was discriminatory, as the provision seemed to be intended at offering immunity to violators who had reached higher positions and harsher punishments to others. Moreover, the draft does not have a provision on the kind of punishment those issuing orders to commit the crime should be given.

Other ‘flaws’ identified by victims in the draft include lack of proper definition of torture, lack of clear provision on reparation and reparation fund, non-inclusion of memorialisation, lack of national documentation provision and vague community service and national reconciliation ceremony provisions.

Stating that the TRC and CIEDP could not function as per their mandate, they also demanded that these two bodies be reconstituted with proper representation of victims.

On the occasion, NHRC Chairman Anup Raj Sharma said a ‘syndicate’ of political parties was trying to sabotage the whole transitional justice process with an amendment draft that had been ‘translated’ and ‘guided by a motive’.

“The draft is focused at providing immunity to perpetrators, and the whole design is to tire the victims. So we should not stop exerting pressure,” he said.