EDITORIAL: Give justice

Parliament should also take up this issue seriously if the State remains apathetic to the CIEDP’s call

It has been almost 11 years since the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed between the State and then rebel Maoists in 2006 to end the decade long conflict that claimed lives of over 17,000 people. The main objectives of the CPA were to give justice to the victims of the insurgency through Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). Both the commissions were formed last year, ten years after the CPA. But both the commissions have not been able to function well in the absence of law criminalizing torture and enforced disappearances, among others. The CIEDP is in the crucial phase of investigation but Parliament has yet to pass law criminalizing torture. The CIEDP is going to exhume bodies of enforced disappearances in suspected areas to verify the ante-mortem data. The commission had sent a draft bill to this effect to the government recommending criminalization of enforced disappearances. The proposed draft bill states that a person who was forcibly disappeared for one or more than one month will also be covered under the category of forcible disappearance.

The commission has so far received 2,825 complaints of enforced disappearances, which is almost the double of government data. The deadline for lodging complaints on disappearances has been extended till March 28. The Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shakar Nayak has vowed to register a bill in Parliament within two weeks after reaching consensus among the stakeholders. Society for Families of Persons Disappeared has expressed doubt over criminalising the torture and enforced disappearances as the government has not enacted the law required to look into such cases during the Maoist insurgency. Even CIEDP members have openly blamed the government for not cooperating with the commission by enacting the law related to it. The delay tactic adopted by the government led by the former top rebel leader does not augur well for the nation.

The transitional justice mechanism should be strengthened with an appropriate law to deal with the cases of torture and enforced disappearances. Then government and then rebels were equally responsible for enforced disappearance of persons involved or not involved in the conflict. The government and parliament can suppress voices of the victims of torture and disappearances, but not the voices of international community, which is pressing the government to follow the verdict of the Supreme Court and international norms. The law, if enacted as per the commitment expressed by the law minister, should also provide reparation to victims either by the State itself or by perpetrators besides giving justice to them. If a law to this effect is not passed soon the objectives of CIEDP will not be met, hence the victims will be deprived of their right to get fair justice. If the transitional justice mechanism fails to impart justice to the victims with legal instrument the international community will surely take up this issue and the suspected human rights violators will always be on an international watch list. Parliament should also take up this issue seriously if the State remains apathetic to the CIEDP’s call.

Bird flu

After the detection of avian influenza-H5N1 in chickens in Kaski and Sunsari districts, of late, the authorities in Chitwan are said to be on high alert and doing the needful to check the spread of the disease. Chitwan produces about half of the chickens in the country. Action should be taken to control the spread of the disease here. The authorities say that they are spraying vehicles carrying the poultry products with medicines when they enter and leave Chitwan. With tough measures being taken to check the spread of the disease here the authorities say that the chances of the flu are slim. Some samples of chickens suspected to be infected with the virus had been sent to Kathmandu but none of them tested positive for the flu viruses H1N1 and the more dangerous H9N2.

Poultry farmers had incurred a heavy loss in Chitwan four years ago.There is a need to spread awareness even among the small farmers about the disease. The association of poultry farmers could play a crucial role. If the chickens die for some unknown reasons they should be immediately reported to the authorities. The preventive measures could also require culling if there is danger of the flu reaching epidemic proportions.