Big 2 parties agree to revise controversial TJ law

Published On: October 22, 2019 07:35 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Oct 22: In an attempt to kick-start the long-stalled transitional justice (TJ) process, leaders of the two major political parties have come to an understanding to revise disputed TJ law, accommodating the concerns of conflict victims, and table a revised bill in parliament shortly after it resumes business.

Top leaders from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and main opposition Nepali Congress reached this understanding amid pressure from the international community and the conflict victims over their failure to resolve the TJ process for years now. With a view to reaching a common understanding about provisions to be revised in an amendment bill, Prime Minister KP Oli has held separate meetings with NCP Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and a team of NC leaders led by its president, Sher Bahadur Deuba.

“Since we are already late in resolving the conflict-era cases, we reached an understanding to revise the TJ law and table a new bill to that effect in parliament once its next session begins,” said NC leader Ramesh Lekhak, who was present at one of the meetings. “The meeting was called to reach a common understanding so that there won't be any further confusion about the points to be revised when the bill reaches parliament,” he added.

Lekhak said the government would be holding similar discussions with the conflict victims and other stakeholders before revising the TJ law. The government had earlier announced the holding of provincial-level consultations with conflict victims and other stakeholders before the Dashain festival. But such consultations have not materialized.

“The consultations will take place soon,” said Lekhak.

The government is under pressure to revise the existing TJ law as the international community and the conflict victims object to it, saying it is not in accordance with international standards and does not conform to an order issued by the Supreme Court. Rights bodies and the courts have warned the government not to grant amnesty to those involved in serious human rights violations such as disappearance, extrajudicial executions, torture and rape.

Over 65,000 conflict-era cases have remained unresolved since the last four years and office-holders of the TJ bodies — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons— retired back in April without settling even a single case.

A committee formed to suggest names for appointment as new officials for the commissions is still struggling with the task. Insiders say both the big parties want to appoint individuals whom they can count on.

Those attending the meetings, however, said they didn't discuss whom to appoint to the TJ commissions. “A separate committee is working on the appointments. We are focused on how to revise the TJ law to the satisfaction of all stakeholders,” said Lekhak.

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