Govt trying to bring derailed TJ process back on track

Published On: September 13, 2019 09:56 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 13: In a bid to bring the derailed transitional justice (TJ) process back on track, the government is weighing two options — appointing office-bearers to two TJ bodies and finalize the disputed TJ draft bills by consulting with stakeholders simultaneously - so that the conflict victims could own up the process. 

As part of bringing conflict victims on board, the Ministry of Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has called the conflict victims to the ministry to discuss the revision of the draft of TJ bills. A meeting between the law ministry officials and conflict victims is scheduled for Monday. 

Once the modality of consultation is finalized, province-wise consultations will be held in all seven provinces. The draft bills, according to conflict victims and government officials, will be revised based on nationwide consultations. “They have called a joint-meeting with us. Province-wise consultations will be held once the modality is finalized,” said Suman Adhikari, a conflict victim whose father was killed by the then rebel Maoists during the decade-long Maoist insurgency. 

Unsurprisingly, a recommendation committee formed by the government to suggest prospective candidates for the two TJ bodies — Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) — is scheduled for Monday. The meeting is expected to publicize the name-list of all applicants requesting the general public to file complaints against them if any before shortlisting them. 

The actual commissioner appointment process will start once the committee unveils name-list of applications. Of the total 57 applications, only three are said to be disqualified. 

The committee enjoys the right to suggest office bearers going beyond list of applicants.

“Most probably, we will publicize the name-list of applicants on Monday. Five days will be given to the public to file complaints against the candidates,” said Sharmila Karki, a member of the recommendation committee, adding, “Then, we will recommend commissioners for both the commissions soon.”  

The government move was initiated after it was widely criticized for sidelining the TJ process and stakeholders including conflict victims warned of staying away from the ongoing justice process if law was not amended in line with the international standards and Nepal’s apex court. 

Informed sources said the recommendation committee headed by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra is consulting with the government officials, leaders of major political parties and other stakeholders to complete the recommendation process at the earliest so that the TJ process could move ahead. 

Formed in April, the recommendation committee is struggling to suggest chiefs and members of the two commissions. The delay in appointing commissions and political bickering among major political parties over whom to name commissioners mainly head of TRC, where most cases against top political leaders are pending, has raised question about the government’s commitment to ensuring justice for the victims. 

Prakash Osti, one of the members of the Mishra-led five-member committee, had warned of quitting the committee in the wake of political intervention. In Thursday’s meeting, committee members had sought Osti’s views on media reports related to National Human Rights Commission’s position on the recommendation committee. 

In response, Osti had replied that the commission had issued the statement based on media reports and urged to avoid political intervention, abide by the Supreme Court verdict while making recommendations or appointing members of TJ bodies and not to re-appoint previous commissioners in bulk. 

Following the discussion, recommendation committee members have made an understanding not to re-appointment all CIEDP commissioners as reported in the media. 

“There won’t be re-appointment in mass. One or two commissioner, however, may get re-appointment if they are deserving candidates as three have applied at the commission seeking re-appointment.”

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