EDITORIAL: Pipe dream

It’s unfortunate that the political leadership just wants to put to rest Nepal’s transitional justice process

A five-member recommendation committee constituted to nominate office bearers for two transitional justice mechanisms – Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) - on Saturday recommended its names for the two panels. The Om Prakash Mishra-led panel was appointed on March 26, 2019, three weeks before the extended tenures of TRC and CIEDP officials ended in April 2019. Mishra and his team, which was given three-months’ timeline, failed to name names for months, due to protracted bickering between the ruling NCP and the main opposition, NC, over their preferred choices. That’s precisely why the panel took so long to compile its first list of 61 odd names.

Saturday’s development comes amidst rather obvious circumstances, and follows Friday’s meeting between the top leaders of the ruling and the main opposition. By the look of things, it’s not too hard to make out that the recommendation panel was told by the leaders to recommend ‘so and so’ to TRC and ‘so and so’ to CIEDP.  If the government approves their names, the new TRC shall be ld by one Ganesh Dutta Bhatta and the CIEDP by another, Yubaraj Subedi. Both TRC and CIEDP have been rudderless since April 14, 2019. But will that pacify the conflict victims? No. Suman Adhikari, founding Chair of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform, has already criticised the nominations as farce. The panel, according to Adhikari, ignored suggestions from them. If the real stakeholders – in this particular case, the conflict victims – do not feel listened to, then what’s the point of appointing names in the mechanisms intended of addressing the grievances of those affected by the so-called People’s War? Will the two panels be able to give the conflict victims a fair deal, or will it give them a sense of justice in the long run? It doesn’t look like so because one of their key demands – only those with expertise on human rights issues – is not adhered to. It must be noted that the earlier commissions failed to perform the tasks assigned to them due mainly to two reasons: both the commissions lacked legal teeth and the office bearers did not have adequate expertise on human rights issues. As a result, the two bodies collected over 63,000 complaints but failed to fully investigate even a single case. And, the history is set to repeat, yet again.

It’s unfortunate that the political leadership and government of the day just wants to put to rest Nepal’s transitional justice process without following proper protocols in clear disregard of globally accepted norms and practices. Not giving a hoot to heal the wounds that tens of thousands of people have been living with for more than a decade since signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006 only undermines credibility of Nepal’s transitional justice process. The CPA seeks to end Nepal’s armed insurgency and the conflict between the Government and the erstwhile Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). But then it’s unfortunate that repeated calls from the international community and the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling ordering formation of transitional bodies consistent with the international norms and standards just remain a pipe dream.

Pay heed to weather

Eleven tourists, including four Korean and four Chinese nationals, went missing on Friday morning when an avalanche struck them on a trekking route to the Annapuna Base Camp. They are said to be stranded between Hing Ku Cave and Deurali in Annapurna Rural Municipality. Police teams have been mobilised in search of their whereabouts. As many as 90 stranded tourists have, however, been rescued to safer places. But the bad weather with heavy snowfall has hampered further rescue.

This is not the first time that such a large number of tourists have been stranded or gone missing in the Annapurna Trekking Circuit, the most popular trekking route in the country. It may be recalled that as many as 39 tourists had died in October 2014 due to the heavy snowstorm that arose from the Cyclone Hudhud in the Bay of Bengal, making it the country’s worst trekking disaster. Those people could have avoided the disaster had they paid attention to the weather forecast issued by the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology. The concerned trekking agencies that organised the event for the foreigners should have alerted them about the weather before they ventured on the risky walk in the Himalayas.