It is unlikely that the current session of parliament will amend the TRC Act as its five-year term is running out

When the then government, represented by the Seven-Party Alliance opposing then King Gyanendra's autocratic rule, and the rebel Maoists reached the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 2006, both the sides had agreed to end the transitional justice within six months of signing the accord. The main goal of the accord was to conclude the peace process by drafting a new constitution through the election of the Constituent Assembly and by managing the arms held by the rebels and Maoist fighters. Another important part of the accord was to address the human rights violations committed by both the state and the rebels by bringing the rights violators under the jurisdiction of a transitional justice system. Let alone concluding the transitional justice within six months as envisaged by the CPA, it took eight years to form the transitional justice mechanism under the Truth and Reconciliation Act-2014 (TRC), which has the twin objectives of providing justice to the conflict victims and finding the truth about the persons forcibly disappeared by both the state and the rebels during the decade-old insurgency from 1996 to 2005. The two separate commissions were formed to look into the cases of human rights violation and missing persons. However, both the commissions have failed to accomplish their assigned tasks due to weaknesses in the Act itself.

A bill to amend the TRC Act-2014 has been tabled in the parliament to make changes in it. But it is not sure when the parliament will amend it to address the concerns of the conflict victims. The conflict victims have been urging the government to make changes in the Act as per the international standard and the Supreme Court's verdicts issued twice in the past. The United Nations human rights body has not recognised the TRC commissions and has not provided them with logistic and technical support, saying both the panels were formed with the intention of giving blanket amnesty to the perpetrators of serious human rights abuses. While addressing the conflict victims the other day at his office, Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Govinda Bandi, who himself is a senior lawyer and had pleaded on behalf of the conflict victims in the past, said discussions were being held at the political level to take the transitional justice process to a logical conclusion.

Should the parliament amend the TRC Act as per the Supreme Court orders and genuine concerns raised by the UN rights bodies, most of the high ranking officials in the Nepali Army and Nepal Police as well as high-profile politicians, who are now in power, will be booked on charges of committing gross human rights violations during the insurgency. Minister Bandi assured that reconciliation and amnesty would not be allowed without the free consent of the conflict victims. While addressing international human rights forums, the government ministers repeat the official version that there shall be no amnesty in cases of serious rights violation. When it comes to making amendments to the Act, the political parties continue to defer doing so indefinitely. It is unlikely that the current session of parliament whose five-year term is going to end within the next two months will amend it. So, the conflict victims will have to wait till the next parliament takes up this issue.

Dirty politics

It has been more than 70 days since Balen Shah took over as the Mayor of Kathmandu, but he faces added obstacles with each passing day to clean the capital's streets of its garbage. By now, there isn't an iota of doubt that there is a conspiracy to fail the mayor, who won the seat as an independent candidate, by the mainstream political parties. It's been weeks since garbage has been piling on the streets of the Kathmandu Valley, and the residents living around the landfill site area have been obstructing the trucks ferrying garbage to the area. On Sunday, only 200 trucks were able to transport garbage to the landfill site, that too with police escort.

It's absurd that the people should think that the mayor is solely responsible for taking care of the city's garbage. It is time to question, what is Prime Minister Deuba and his ministers doing? Why are they not bothered at all when the garbage problem is giving Kathmandu such bad publicity in the media? If the intention of the parties, both ruling and opposition, is to give the independents a hard time, then with the federal and provincial elections slated for mid-November, it is unlikely that Kathmandu garbage problem will be solved anytime soon.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 17, 2022 of The Himalayan Times.