KATHMANDU, Feb 5: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the government to come up with a law criminalizing conflict-era torture and enforced disappearance so as to prevent a situation of conflict-era victims seeking justice through international institutions.
Unveiling a 11-point recommendation concerning transitional justice on Monday, NHRC Chairman Anup Raj Sharma urged all the authorities concerned including the government to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act taking into consideration the Supreme Court's ruling to criminalize torture and disappearance and remove the statute of limitations for registering conflict-era cases and also international human rights law.
“If the laws are not amended to ensure justice within the country, the conflict-era victims will be forced to seek justice from beyond the borders. It won't do any good to the country. So, we ask the government to heed our suggestions and move forward in an appropriate way for ensuring transitional justice,” he said.
The current act includes provisions which according to experts, human rights defenders and families of the victims allow amnesty to perpetrators of serious human rights violation.
Similarly, Chairman Sharma also urged the authorities not to scrap cases or grant amnesty to individuals involved in serious cases of human rights violations like enforced disappearance, extrajudicial execution, torture and rape. “Similarly, we also urged the concerned bodies to bring about reconciliation between the victim and the perpetrator only upon the approval of the victims and the prevalent theories of justice,” he said.
The TRC and CIEDP have received over 60,000 and about 3,000 complaints, respectively. While the TRC is struggling to settle 7,000 complaints by the end of its current term, CIEDP has been unable to complete investigations into even a thousand cases until now.
Earlier, the TRC had established liaison offices in all seven provinces and assigned each office to settle 1,000 complaints it received. Let alone completing investigations into all the complaints received, the body is struggling to conclude investigation into a few thousand cases.
The TRC has deputed an investigation team led by a government attorney in each province. The team comprises a lawyer recommended by Nepal Bar Association and a human rights activist working in the field of transitional justice. Similarly, the CIEDP has also failed to work expeditiously. The body recently forwarded over 400 complaints it was handling to the TRC for further investigations as it could not ascertain whether the persons allegedly missing at the hands of both the state and then rebel party were 'disappeared' or 'killed'.
In lack of necessary law and resources, the commissions have been struggling to provide justice to the victims even after three years of their formation. After their extended second-term was about to expire, the government recently decided to extend their tenure by another one year through an ordinance.