EDITORIAL: 12 years of injustice

The only way the state and political leadership can right the wrong done to conflict victims would be to work in all seriousness to ensure justice

Twelve years ago on November 21, Nepal’s Maoist rebels, who had launched a war against the state seeking to “bring socio-political transformation”, signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the government. The decade-long conflict came to a formal end. But by that time it had already claimed nearly 16,000 lives. Another 1,300 people went missing during the war. Since 2006 the country may have made many strides on the socio-political front, the victims of the war seem to have been consigned to oblivion despite their continuous clamour for justice. It’s a shame that even after 12 years conflict victims are waiting for justice for human rights abuses that were committed during the 10 years of war. On Wednesday, when the country marked the 12th anniversary of the peace deal, there were renewed calls for ensuring justice to conflict victims.

The CPA heralded the beginning of the peace process which while included political components, one major component was ensuring justice to those who had suffered at the hands of state forces and rebel party, to the families of those who had died or were disappeared. Nepal’s political leadership, however, has utterly failed to address the concerns of the conflict victims largely on the pretext that they had bigger responsibilities to fulfil. Indeed they had those bigger challenges to meet — integration of the Maoist army into the national army, drafting of a new constitution, elections under the new constitution that guarantees federal set-up. But in the meantime, the leadership forgot there were conflict victims who were awaiting justice. The CPA had envisioned formation of a transitional justice mechanism to deal with war-era crimes. But it took nine years to institute the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappearances. The Act that guides the commissions has provisions allowing them to recommend amnesties in case of gross human rights violations. In February 2015, the Supreme Court ordered scrapping the commission’s power to grant amnesties and bring laws as per the international standards. But things are still in a state of limbo.

The two commissions which had an initial mandate of two years have now their term deadline until February, but they neither have legal power nor the wherewithal to investigate war-era human rights violations. So far, their job has been limited to collecting complaints and recording statements. Nepali leadership in the past years has been tirelessly talking about what they call Nepal’s “home-grown peace process” at the international forums, but unless justice is delivered to victims, accountability is ensured and climate of reconciliation is established, it will be perceived as nothing but humble bragging. There has so far been no acknowledgement of human rights abuses, whereas this should have been the starting point of transitional justice process. Conflict victims have already waited for so long; there is no time to waste now on one or the other pretext. The only way the state and political leadership can right the wrong done to the victims would be to work in all seriousness and commit to ensuring justice. Political leadership cannot cop out on conflict victims.

Save mother, foetus

This is shocking that a 12-year-old girl, Ganga Maya Praja, of Raksirang Rural Municipality, Makwanpur, has become pregnant and she has been referred to the Kathmandu-based Maternity Hospital for safe delivery of her baby. Doctors in Hetauda, where Praja had been admitted, referred her to Kathmandu for safe delivery, saying the Hetauda Hospital does not have ICU and NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) facilities for the mother and the newborn in case of emergency. She tied the knot with an 18-year-old boy 10 months ago. She is likely to give birth to the baby in the first week of January.

This incident speaks volume about the pathetic condition of Hetauda Hospital and sorry state of the country’s education and healthcare system in rural areas where child marriage is rampant. The fourth-class dropout comes from the Chepang community, one of the most marginalised and excluded ones, deprived of basic needs. As she herself is a child, she will find it very difficult to raise the baby. All levels of government must learn lesson from this case and act accordingly. The urgent task, at this moment, is to save her and the foetus