Conflict victims may ‘snub’ TJ process over commissioner appointments

Published On: September 7, 2019 07:37 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 7:  Conflict victims have warned that they may stay away from the transitional justice (TJ)  process if former commissioners who were earlier ‘removed’ from their positions for failing to resolve conflict-era cases or controversial people are appointed to the TJ bodies.

The objection from the victims comes at a time when a committee formed to recommend chiefs and members of the TJ bodies — Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons — is said to be working to re-appoint some individuals who had earlier been forced to resign from the TJ bodies. Also, the victims are unhappy after major political parties quietly discussed appointing Raman Shrestha as the chief of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission—where most cases of human rights violations filed against top leaders are filed.

Conflict victims claimed that preparations are underway to appoint Shrestha as the chief of the TRC.

Also, they claimed that the parties have made an understanding to re-appoint former members of the CIEDP citing their past experiences.  Likewise, the parties reportedly want to re-appoint Madhabi Bhatta and Shree Krishna Subedi as members of the TRC. 

Bhatta had applied at the recommendation committee seeking her reappointment. 

Appointed in 2015 both chiefs and members of both the TRC and CIEDP were retired in April this year after they failed to produce expected results in resolving conflict-era cases. Initially, two-year term was given to them but they failed to perform despite getting an extension of two years. 

Victims are dissatisfied with Shrestha for a couple of reasons; his inclination to former rebel Maoists and his involvement in sabotaging the voices raised by conflict victims in the past. “If they are to follow the law, Raman Shrestha is ineligible to hold any position in theTJ bodies,” said Suman Adhikari, a conflict victim, whose father was killed by Maoists during the insurgency. “The act clearly states that the chiefs and members of the commissions should not be affiliated to any party to the conflict.” 

Adhikari said Shrestha was involved in the Maoists insurgency. Shrestha, according to the Adhikari, was arrested by police during the insurgency and was later released by the court. Victims are unhappy with the role played by Shrestha as the attorney general under the governments of Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sher Bahadur Deuba. 

“Whenever victims such as Sabitri Shrestha [sister of Ujjan Kumar Shrestha] or Maina Sunar moved the court Raman tried to obstruct the justice process,” claimed Adhikari, adding, “He is the one standing against victims when Maina Sunar’s case was taken to the Supreme Court for judicial review of a junior court’s order.”

Even as the recommendation committee mandated to suggest members and chiefs for the TRC and CIEDP were formed some six months ago, the committee is struggling to come up with a list of prospective candidates. 

The committee has been canceling its recent meetings citing various reasons. Conflict victims, however, say recent meetings had ended inclusively as parties failed to reach at any conclusion.

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