‘Political mechanism ploy to let perpetrators go scot-free’

Kathmandu, November 23 

A section of conflict victims today charged that the proposal to form a high-level ‘political mechanism’ to guide the transitional justice process was a ‘ploy hatched behind closed doors’ to grant amnesty to the perpetrators of war crime, crime against humanity and serious crime during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The charge comes two days after a national conference of the Conflict Victims Common Platform — an umbrella body of conflict victims — adopted a charter demanding formation of a high-level mechanism involving conflict victims to guide the transitional justice process and restructuring of the existing transitional justice mechanisms — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons.

Issuing a statement, the disgruntled group claimed the conference failed to ensure representation of all sections of conflict victims. The statement undersigned by 16 individuals states that they do not accept the move to endorse the charter by a sponsored gathering held on the basis of a secret understanding between victims’ representatives.

“We completely reject the proposed roadmap to guide the transitional justice process by a high-level political mechanism in which the perpetrators will have dominating role, and conclude the process based on the army integration model,” reads the statement.

CVCP Vice-chairman Gopal Bahadur Shah, who is leading the campaign, said the proposal to form a political mechanism was against the spirit of the 12-point agreement, comprehensive peace agreement and transitional justice principles.

“The hidden intention of the charter is to conclude the transitional justice process through a political mechanism and grant amnesty to perpetrators,” he said. “Our demand is to take the process to its logical conclusion through the TRC and CIEDP by empowering them.”

The group has also threatened to launch a national-international protest campaign if the bid to derail the transitional justice process is not stopped.

The signatories of the statement include CVCP Vice-chairman Gopal Bahadur Shah; Fanindra Luitel; Krishna Adhikari; Shankar Budathoki; Sagar Adhikari; Netra Bahadur Bhandari; Krishna Bahadur Rawal; Gyanendra Raj Aran; Prabha Jung Rawal; Savitri Silwal; Savitri Shrestha; Ganesh Bhandari; Jamuna Rokka; Kalyan Budathoki; Gangamaya Adhikari; and Hari Bhakta Thapa Chhetri.

CVCP leaders, however, said that it was their ‘genuine effort’ to seek solution after all previous efforts failed, and that it was normal to see some skepticism.

CVCP Chairman Bhagiram Chaudhary made it clear that they were not proposing a ‘political mechanism’ but a ‘high-level mechanism’ involving the victims. “Under such rigorous international scrutiny, concluding the transitional justice process through ‘political mechanism’ is not possible,” he said. Chaudhary also charged that those leading the campaign were active political cadres who were hatching a ploy to derail the new process by dividing the victims. He also said that the cases related to two of the signatories — Ganga Maya Adhikari and Savitri Shrestha — had already been settled by the court. He also charged that signatures of most of the 16 signatories were forged.

Ex-chairman of CVCP Suman Adhikari said it was difficult to bring 100 per cent conflict victims to the same page, but the majority of victims backed the new initiative. “So do not be surprised it a few more such statements are released,” he said. “They are neither properly communicating their dissatisfaction, nor are they recommending a solution. So it is clear that they just want to prolong the status quo.”

The proposal to form the high-level mechanism has also sharply divided rights activists and civil society leaders. While a section of civil society leaders and rights activists are actively backing the new initiatives, another section recently released a statement opposing the new initiative.