Probe into war-era cases affected as CIEDP staffers deployed for polls

Kathmandu, April 22

Investigation into insurgency-era disappearance cases has been affected as almost all staffers of the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons were deployed for local elections slated for May 14.

CIEDP Spokesperson Prof Bishnu Pathak told The Himalayan Times that the transitional justice body was supposed to commence investigation into disappearance related complaints from mid-April, but now it could be done only after the polls.

CIEDP will collect ante-mortem data of enforced disappearances and carry out excavation of suspected sites during investigation.

According to Pathak, all four under secretaries deputed at the commission from the Judicial Service were recalled by the government for poll preparation. The remaining dozen officers will also be deputed for poll-related assignments. He added that the investigation would be further delayed if the elections are held in two phases.

The government has deputed security personnel, bureaucrats and other government employees, including teachers, for local polls that is being held after a hiatus of two decades. The last local election was held in 1997.

“We were already facing severe staff crunch. We need at least 50 officer-level staffers to commence investigation into disappearances cases,” Pathak said. The body had some 95 staffers, including support staff.

Besides staff crunch, the CIEDP has been handicapped in the absence of law to carry out its functions. The CIEDP had sent a draft bill to the government recommending criminalisation of enforced disappearances, but the bill is yet to be passed.

Pathak informed that the CIEDP would have to halt work on updating victims’ complaints as some 300 of them have inadequate information. As many as 2,860 disappearance related complaints were registered at CIEDP during last year’s complaint-collection drive.

“We are updating these complaints,” the CIEDP spokesperson said. The CIEDP recently collected at least 55 disappearance-related complaints from those victims who had not registered their cases earlier.

The body has to investigate all these complaints and recommend to the government to take action against perpetrators and provide reparation to the victims by 9 February 2018.