11 years after CPA, conflict victims still await justice
November 22, 2017 06:33 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Nov 21: The signing of the historic Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), which promised conflict victims expeditious justice through transitional justice mechanisms within six months, marked 11 years on Tuesday. But the victims of the decade-long Maoist armed insurrection still await satisfaction.
It first took almost nine years to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission for the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). Although these two bodies have now been at work for almost three years, they have done precious little to dispense justice to the victims, whose conflict-era wounds remain raw.
The victims allege that indifference on the part of the major political parties has made them wait several years. “Our political parties are not serious about providing justice to the conflict victims. It seems the two commissions have been formed just to hoodwink the international community into thinking that they are actually doing something,” said Suman Adhikari, chairman of the Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP) .
The TRC and CIEDP were initially each given a two-year term. On February 9, the government extended the terms by another year as their mandated tasks were far from completion.
The TRC has received some 62,000 complaints while CIEDP has received around 3,000. The TRC has established provincial offices in each of the seven provinces and liaison offices in all the districts since July.
According to TRC Commissioner Madhavi Bhatta, the TRC’s seven provincial offices in coordination with the recently established district liaison offices are currently investigating 7,000 out of the total 62,000 plus complaints received. “We often face allegations that our work is too slow. Whether the work is slow or fast is a relative matter. Investigations into the complaints received at the TRC are a painfully slow process,” she said. “In South Africa for instance, it took nearly nine years for 17 commissioners to investigate less than 20,000 complaints received.”
The TRC, which has a total of five commissioners, has deputed an investigation team led by a public attorney to each provincial office to investigate the complaints. The team consists of a lawyer recommended by Nepal Bar Association and a human rights activist working in the field of transitional justice.
Officials said they could not work expeditiously in the past as it took a long time for the necessary legislation to materialise, to classify and archive the complaints and set up offices in the provinces. Officials complained of lack of adequate resources and said the elections also impeded their work.
As the TRC struggles to settle a few thousand cases, conflict victims worry that it may take several years for them to receive justice if the pace of work of the transitional justice mechanism does not pick up.
CVCP head Adhikari said the government must work sincerely. “It should first amend the relevant Acts to ensure international standards and also restructure the two commissions. Transitional justice issues must be settled before it is too late. Else, conflict era wounds will keep festering for years to come,” he further said.