Stakeholders ignored while framing TRC Act amendment bill

Kathmandu, November 16

Relevant stakeholders have said they were not duly consulted while framing the proposed amendment bill of Enforced Disappearances Investigation and Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.

As a critical aspect of the peace process; the bill has drawn widespread concern from an array of stakeholders, including the transitional justice bodies, conflict victims; civil society, rights defenders as well as the international community.

Likewise, the state security agencies, including Nepali Army, and those involved in the Maoist insurgency are also equally concerned about it.

However, when news started coming that the amendment bill has delisted ‘crime against humanity’ from the category of heinous crimes, the stakeholders became worried that the document would be tabled

in the Parliament without taking into account their genuine concerns.

Similarly, they are also equally concerned about news reports that the proposed bill has even included provisions of offering amnesty in serious criminal offences that had occurred during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.

“Since we were not consulted, we don’t know what provisions are mentioned in the draft,”said Suman Adhikari, chairman of Conflict Victims Common Platform. He warned that peace couldn’t be ensured if the victims were denied justice.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung also stated that the draft bill was not given to the TRC and the TRC was also not consulted.

Govinda Bandi, a human rights lawyer, said the peace process would reach its logical conclusion only after ‘wider consultation’ among the relevant stakeholders.

“The proposed amendment draft of the Act should not be kept under wraps,” he told The Himalayan Times. “Only a wider consultation among stakeholders will make it easy to conclude the peace process smoothly.”

Nepali Army Spokesperson Brigadier General Tara Bahadur Karki said that the national

force was not officially consulted or informed about the bill. He also hoped that the NA’s ‘sensitivity’ would be incorporated in the bill.

It’s learnt that the NA had conveyed its displeasure regarding some of the provisions mentioned in the draft bill, where particularly it seemed a trap was being designed for NA personnel in relation to war-era rights violation cases.

Former Attorney General Hari Phuyal wondered why the government was keeping aside the relevant stakeholders while making such an important law.

The existing TRC Act was enacted in April 2014, which drew widespread criticism from the victims, as well as rights defenders. They have since then dubbed the law inadequate and against international principles.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction Shankar Prasad Kharel said the ministry had prepared the draft in consultation with the TRC and forwarded it to the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs.

He, however, said that some stakeholders were not consulted as the ‘draft was only for amendment of an already existing law’.

MoLJPA Spokesperson Dilli Raj Ghimire passed the buck to the MoPR for consultation with stakeholders as the ministry was the initial drafting authority of the bill.

Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha claimed that all concerned, including the victims had been consulted, and their suggestions have been incorporated in the draft accordingly.

He, however, said that secrecy should be maintained and nowhere in the world were such draft bills shared with stakeholders before submission to the Parliament.