Committee failsagain to recommend TJ commissioners

Published On: June 24, 2019 07:57 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 24: A meeting of the recommendation committee formed to suggest the names of office-bearers for two crucial transitional justice (TJ) bodies of the government has failed yet again to do so. The meeting of the committee headed by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra was scheduled for Sunday but it was cancelled in the last hour citing one of its members was unable to attend the meeting. 

“The meeting has been postponed. So, we don’t have any news today,” said Sharmila Pathak, a member  of the committee, adding, “As briefed to us, the committee’s member Prem Bahadur Khadka is in Pokhara.” 

The committee was mandated to recommend the chiefs and members of the two TJ bodies – Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) – before mid-April, when the terms of their chiefs and commissioners expired. Even as the government extended the terms of the TJ bodies by a year in February this year, it had given marching orders to the commissioners questioning their ability to conclude the transitional justice process. 

Currently, the TJ bodies are without commissioners whereas the committee formed to recommend new chiefs and members is still struggling to accomplish the task given to it. It has been repeatedly deferring the meeting under various pretexts.

Informed sources, however, say the recommendation committee is in a fix as the major political parties want to appoint their trusted men to the top positions of TJ bodies. As most war-era cases are piled up at the TRC, both ruling Nepal Communist Party and main opposition Nepali Congress are struggling to appoint their trusted men as the chiefs of the commissions. 

“The recommendation committee is just for formality. It will not be able to recommend the chiefs and members unless the parties reach a conclusion on whom to appoint the chiefs of the commissions,” said a source privy to the development.

It is learnt that the leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, which was formed a year ago by merging the CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN-UML, are also divided over whom to appoint the chief of TRC as they have their own interests in dealing with the conflict-era cases. Sources say former UML leaders are pushing for appointing Gobinda Bandi as chief of TRC whereas former Maoist leaders have been pushing to appoint former attorney general Raman Shrestha.  

Main opposition Nepali Congress has been demanding the chief position of the TRC be given to the party. Most war-era cases are filed against the Maoist and NC leaders. 

Issuing a press statement, the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform (CVCP) on Saturday urged the recommendation committee to be free from political influence while recommending the commissioners and suggested to the recommendation committee and political parties to ‘think above the political interests’ while making such appointments.  

The CVCP has demanded that ‘fair, independent, professional and experts on related issues’ be appointed at the commissions to conclude the long-delayed transitional justice process. 

More than 12 years have elapsed since the government promised to settle the conflict-era cases. 

Established in February 2015, both TJ bodies were mandated to complete investigations into the conflict-era cases and ensure justice to the victims within two years. The government extended their deadlines by two more years to complete the given tasks.  As many as 63,000 cases have been filed at the TRC. Of them, TRC has concluded preliminary investigations into about only 3,000 cases.

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