Ministry braces for holding consultations to formulate TJ law within a week and a half
KATHMANDU, Sept 17: Conflict victims have urged the government to replace the existing recommendation committee formed to suggest commissioners for the transitional justice (TJ) bodies or suspend its work "if the TJ process is to be pushed ahead".
At a meeting called by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to finalize the disputed TJ law to expedite the long-stalled TJ process, the victims demanded that the recommendation process be suspended or the existing committee be replaced with a new one.
Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, however, said the government wouldn't backtrack on its decision to choose commissioners through the existing recommendation committee. The minister argued that the committee was formed in accordance with the existing legal provisions and the government cannot suspend the ongoing commissioner selection process.
“The government cannot backtrack on its stance as the committee has been formed according to the prevailing law,” said Minister Dhakal, adding, “Let the committee accomplish its job. We should focus on revising the law through consultations with the stakeholders.”
Formed in April, the recommendation committee headed by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra is struggling to suggest commissioners for two commissions - Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) — as parties are at odds with each other over selecting the commissioners and the stakeholders continue to be divided over the process. The committee is in a fix after the major political parties, mainly the ruling Nepal Communist Party and the main opposition, are at loggerheads over who to name the chief of TRC, where most cases of human rights violations have been pending for years.
The conflict victims and rights activists have urged the government to suspend the ongoing commissioner appointment process to make it more consultative and transparent.
“We have asked the government to suspend or replace the existing committee to make it acceptable to all,” said Ram Bhandari, one of the conflict victims, whose father was abducted and disappeared by the security forces during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.
Bhandari commented that the consultation among the stakeholders for revising the law was a step forward in resolving the war-era cases. He, however, demanded that a new recommendation committee be formed, arguing that the existing recommendation committee doesn't include any conflict victims' representatives and is over politicized. Like conflict victims' leaders, rights bodies have been demanding that a more consultative and transparent process be adopted to appoint the commissioners at the two TJ bodies.
The ministry wants to hold consultations on an amendment bill on the CIEDP and the TRC Act in all seven provinces in presences of all stakeholders including conflict victims within one and a half weeks.
As per the ministry's plan, a national consultation will be held in Kathmandu after holding provincial consultations in all provinces on the same day before tabling the bill at parliament.
The conflict victims attending the meeting, however, have suggested to the government to collect thematic inputs from stakeholders including the conflict victims. They said suggestions should be collected from the victims focusing on key thematic policies such as reparation, prosecution, reconciliation and investigation.
“The draft bill should be formulated based on the inputs made by the stakeholders,” said Bhandari.
At the meeting, the conflict victims suggested to the government not to grant amnesty to anyone indulged in cases of serious human rights violations— rape, torture, killing and disappearance.