KATHMANDU, Jan 7: In a bid to restart the long-stalled transitional justice (TJ) process, the government is holding consultations with conflict victims and other stakeholders in all seven provinces from January 13.
Conflict victims, stakeholders and officials from the law ministries at federal and provincial levels will hold consultations about drafting laws in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict and international practices, and about possible ways to resolve cases of human rights violation during the decade-long Maoist armed insurgency.
According to government officials and conflict victims, consultations will be held in two sessions – one session exclusively for conflict victims and another round of consultations together with all the stakeholders.
The consultations will primarily focus on how to address the concerns raised by conflict victims and other stakeholders while drafting the laws and on ways to resolve the insurgency era-cases, according to representatives of conflict victims grouped under the banner of the Conflict Victims Common Platform who attended a meeting called by Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali. Gyawali is looking after the law and justice ministry also.
At the meeting on Monday, Gyawali asked the conflict victims to be part of the consultation process and to assist the government in completing the much-delayed TJ process at the earliest. The conflict victims were informed that the consultations are taking place at provincial headquarters to make the processes of drafting the laws and appointing the TJ bodies’ commissioners simultaneous.
The two key TJ bodies – Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons – have been left without any commissioners since last April. A panel formed to suggest probable names for TJ bodies commissioners last week started to look into complaints filed against those seeking appointment as commissioners.
Conflict victims have extended their support for the consultations. But they have demanded suspension of the ongoing recommendations process and the formation of a high-level political mechanism for drafting the transitional justice laws and the procedures required for completing the TJ process before any commissioners are appointed.
“The ongoing recommendations process should be suspended right away. The appointment process should begin only after victim-centric laws are in place and the victims have full confidence in the process,” said Suman Adhikari, whose father was killed in Lamjung during the Maoist insurgency.
Minister Gyawali, however, turned down the proposal to suspend the appointments process, arguing that this would cause further delays.
After failing to prosecute even a single accused in insurgency-era crime in the 13 years since the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the government is now under pressure to act more expeditiously.
As part of efforts to reach an understanding on appointing the TJ commissioners, ruling NCP Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and main opposition NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba held a meeting Monday.
The two reportedly reached an understanding not to re-appoint former commissioners, and to expedite the TJ process through a political understanding among major stakeholders. Dahal had gone to Budhanilkantha to meet Deuba.
Deuba and Dahal, who were on opposite sides of the Maoist insurgency, are facing the most cases of human rights violation from the insurgency period that ended in 2006 with the signing of the comprehensive peace deal.
Over 65,000 complaints filed at the TJ commissions have remained unresolved since 2015.