Code of conduct A test of credibility of both sides

Truce monitors have to ensure that accords are not breached and armies do not resort to guns.

The main function of the National Monitoring Committee for Ceasefire Code of Conduct (NMCC) is to monitor the activities of warring sides — the government and the Maoists. These activities are listed in the 25-point Ceasefire Code of Conduct (CC).

Significantly, the NMCC has to transcend the limits set by the 25 points as its very preamble affirms that the CC has been issued with a view to transforming the ceasefire into a lasting peace and solving the problems through dialogue. In the preamble, the Negotiating Teams (NT) have expressed their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, International Human Rights Laws and other fundamental rights doctrines and have also confirmed their full commitment to 12-point understanding. The NT have asked the NMCC in and through its Terms of Reference and Power to monitor the CC as per the spirit of the 12-point understanding, 8-point agreement and any agreement signed in the future.

With regard to the working of National Monitoring Committee for Ceasefire Code of Conduct, it appears that some people have reservations on account of their convictions. We know that monitoring ceasefire goes beyond human rights monitoring as it has to see that in any case the ceasefire agreements are not breached to allow the two armies to resort to guns again and spoil the peace process by stalling the dialogue. It has also to see that human rights of the people are not violated and they are allowed to live peacefully. Moreover, there are rights organisations, both national and international, to monitor the rights violations, thus reducing the responsibility of the NMCC on this score.

Training Manual of Human Rights Monitoring defines “monitoring” as a broad term describing the active collection, verification and immediate use of information to address rights problems. In other words, active collection of information, objective investigation, quick preparation of report and making it public are the steps that come within the purview of monitoring.

To some, the NMCC is not monitoring human rights violations by the Maoists seriously. In this connection, it is to be remembered that the NMCC has to monitor and submit its report fortnightly to the NT, and the NT’s joint committee has to consider the report and implement its suggestions. But no joint committee has been formed so far by the NT, although the NMCC, in both of its reports, has drawn the attention of the NT in this respect. The Maoists are insisting on the implementation of the 8-point agreement. They say that they will dismantle people’s courts and stop abductions and extortions when the political issues are settled. Yet to some, the prompt action taken by the NMCC to visit the army barracks on the night of September 12 has injured the credibility of the NMCC. It is well known that on receiving the highly sensational information about the army transporting about 40 truckloads of arms and ammunition from India to Kathmandu, the NMCC had swung into action to check the fact by reaching the site — the barracks at Gajuri. Before leaving for Gajuri, we were informed by the defence secretary that the army was bringing some vehicles, including some white coloured APCs (Chinese make) and other vehicles from different places like Pokhara and Hetauda to Kathmandu to be sent to Lebanon with the Nepali peace keeping force.

On reaching there at 9.30 a.m., we observed that there were altogether 31 vehicles meant for the army, out of which were 15 new Indian trucks without any hood, five brand-new jeeps, seven Chinese-make Armed Personnel Carriers, two old trucks and two containers. On opening the containers we found that in one there were some boxes with plastic bullets meant for firing at the time of Dashain, and in another there were empty bullets.

We made our findings public immediately to the media that proved very effective as the news of our findings eased the tense atmosphere, since the Maoists had already declared an indefinite bandh throughout the country, which they called off immediately after getting the information.

On our return to the capital we called for the defence secretary and the DMO of the Army and sought clarifications from them and the information was released through our press note in the evening. We carried out our investigation further and information reveals that the trucks were dispatched by the factory on May 30, 2006 and had crossed the border on June 14. These vehicles were cleared by the Customs on July 3; the jeeps were dispatched by the factory on January 22 and had crossed the border on March 28. These vehicles too were cleared by the Customs on July 3 last year.

Only a few days back, we got four people released from Maoist captivity. On November 3, after being informed of a likely confrontation between the army and the Maoists at Chandranigahpur, we immediately contacted the defence secretary who informed that the problem has been solved.

Prof Mishra is coordinator, NMCC