EDITORIAL: Provide justice
As it may take a long time to settle all cases, the settled cases should be forwarded for necessary action
The families of the victims of the Maoist-related violence during ten years (1996-2006) appear to have been driven to despair as the justice they have been promised does not seem to be coming anytime soon. Though the Comprehensive Peace Accord between the CPN-Maoist and the Government provided for settling the cases of the disappeared people within six months, another ten years has passed without any result, except the formation of the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), originally with two-year tenure, but later extended by one year. The law relating to CIEDP and its terms of reference were widely criticized as falling short of international standards, and the Supreme Court too ruled that they should be made according to internationally accepted practices. Though the tenure of the commission is ending in February next year, serious doubts remain among the kin of the conflict victims and the general public whether at last justice will be delivered.
The victims’ families want the truth to be out without further delay, as too much time has already been wasted. If the victims were killed, the government should be able to tell their families so and the whereabouts and the circumstances of their deaths. The victims’ families have come together to push forward their right causes and to make their voice for justice stronger. The government could not ensure safety to thousands of people who were harassed, tortured, maimed or killed by Maoists, often in a gruesome manner; a number of people also became victims at the hands of the security forces who countered Maoist violence. Indeed, the commission members visited the homes of the victims in a number of places to get information.
The victims’ families should wait another five or six months for the commission’s tenure to end. If by that time, they had no hope of justice left, they are free to push their cause through a movement. At this time it is also necessary for the general public to keep the pressure up and remind the government and the commission not to forget their duties in this connection. On his part, CIEDP Chairman Lokendra Mallik says that it is not possible for the commission to complete its task within the remaining five or six months as there are still 3,093 cases to be investigated. It has approved 1,323 cases for detailed investigation, and 1,332 cases require further study. It has started detailed investigation into 157 cases. Indeed, many cases are complex. But what more time the commission needs to complete its job should be clear. Frequent extensions of tenure do not look nice and fair from any angle.
As the Nepalese law has not criminalized disappearance, the commission will find it difficult as to what kind of charge to make against the perpetrator. As it may take a long time to settle all cases, the settled cases should be forwarded for necessary action.
He also points out that the commission has not been able to forward even the cases already settled because of a lack of clarity in the law. The Government and Parliament should remove this legal shortcoming soon.
The government’s health insurance policy seems to be working with many clients getting insured in Makwanpur recently. It is reported by the Makwanpur District Public Health Office that there is growing awareness towards the policy and many have shown interest in joining the scheme. The health insurance policy requires a family of five to pay a total of Rs. 2,500 every year to get insured under this health scheme. Over 30,000 denizens of the district have bought the policy. This health programme was initiated from the last week of June here. Many patients covered by this insurance scheme have been visiting the Hetuada Hospital for health services these days.
Health services can be very expensive and the people, the majority of whom are impoverished, cannot avail of treatment. Those who have bought the health insurance policy are eligible to be provided treatment in Bhimphedi, Palung, Manahari and Chhatiwan health centres. The government had launched the scheme in several districts a few months ago. And if we are to go by the reports it is gaining in popularity. The insurance policy will ensure that more patients would be able to afford treatment. Therefore, it looks like the government’s health insurance policy is providing the much needed relief.