TRC commissioners at odds over seeking term extension

Published On: January 28, 2017 06:30 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Jan 28: Commissioners at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are voicing contradictory views at a time when less than 15 days remain in the TRC’s original tenure of two-years and  57,753 complaints from conflict victims are still pending with it .The commission recently held a meeting to discuss extension of its tenure by one year as per the existing law, but the commissioners came up with opposing arguments regarding the issue.

Commissioner Madhavi Bhatta claimed before media that another commissioner, Sri Krishna Subedi, came up with an idea of not extending the tenure and instead preparing a report covering only the work done so far.

However, Subedi said his only argument at the meeting was that the TRC should do a review of its tenure of two years before seeking any extension.

“Without reviewing what has happened in the last two years, seeking a tenure extension would not be meaningful. What if we fail to investigate the complaints even after an extension.? As the government remains slow in drafting the required regulations and providing the needed resources in time, we want some political commitments before any extension,” said Subedi.

“This was all that I said at the meeting but one  commissioner has brought this out in an exaggerated fashion. The commission has been suffering from such tendencies toward propaganda,” he added.

However, Bhatta argued that the commissioners should be consistent in their views and their utterances. 

“We cannot let the commission disintegrate in the course of holding a review. We, the commissioners, are visiting all the seven provinces with the aim of setting up extended offices and assuring the victims that detailed investigations into their complaints would start soon, but here at the meeting we are discussing whether we should seek an extension or not. This is inconsistency on our own part,” said Bhatta.

Surya Kiran Gurung, the TRC chairman, denied there was any controversy within the commission but said he has been urging all the commissioners not to make personal or controversial comments.

“I have been reminding them that the issue of transitional justice is a sensitive one and arguing could harm the commission itself,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gurung also said that the TRC wants a commitment from the political level that the law would be amended on time and needed resources also provided. “The commission can seek an extension for completing the investigations but we cannot complete that unless we get the resources on time. On the other hand, we have been asking for an amendment in the law as this is what the victims and the international community are also looking for. However, the government is yet to table the amendment bill,” lamented Gurung.

“In this regard, the commission is reviewing all the related issues before seeking an extension” he added.

The TRC was formed on February 11, 2015 with a tenure of two years and the law has a provision for extending the tenure by one year. The commission is tasked with investigating cases of human rights violation during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.

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