‘Govt’s commitments to TJ at international forums just a formality’

Published On: September 29, 2019 07:11 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 29: During his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali expressed commitment to concluding the Transitional Justice (TJ) process at the earliest. 

He said that Nepal’s TJ process would be concluded on the basis of the  Comprehensive Peace Accord, the directive of the Supreme Court, the relevant international commitments, the concerns of the victims, and ground realities.

This was not the  first time Gyawali has expressed such commitment at an international forum. 
Back in February, he  expressed a  similar commitment while addressing the high-level segment of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.“... we will be guided by the Comprehensive Peace Accord, directive of the Supreme Court, relevant international commitments, concerns of the victims and the ground realities. There will be no blanket amnesty in  cases of serious violations of human rights,” he had said then. 

Contrary to the government’s commitment at several global forums  to resolve the TJ process in accordance with  international standards, very little is being  done  back home in Nepal to ensure justice for conflict victims. The conflict victims have been waiting for justice ever since the peace deal was signed in 2007. Nothing has been initiated to translate  words into action. 

Instead, the parties are working against their own express commitments. They have paralyzed the already existing TJ bodies--Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Commission. 

Both the commissions, established in 2015  to settle conflict-era cases , have remained bereft of  commissioners since April. 

A total of 65,000 cases of human rights violation filed against former Maoist rebels, security personnel and the then rulers have been pending at the commissions for years now. 
A recommendation committee  comprising representatives of the major political parties has been formed to suggest names for new commissioners. The committee, however, has turned out to be  ineffective as the parties are pushing  to appoint their own  trusted candidates as chiefs and members of the commissions. 

Conflict victims remain frustrated over the delayed TJ process. They say the government keeps expressing its commitment at all available forums to conclude the TJ process  even as they  act against established human rights values when it comes to settling the conflict-era cases.
“Their commitments at  international forums are just a formality. They are doing just the opposite of what they say at those forums,” said Suman Adhikari, one of the conflict victims, “The reality is that the TJ process remains stalled as they are weighing up candidates who  can best be relied upon to  save their [leaders’] own skins while  settling the cases.”

Rights activist Charan Parasai  seconds Adhikari’s sentiments. “Their commitments made at international forums are nothing than window dressing,” said Prasai. 

He said almost all government representatives are delivering  speeches in a similar vein although the ground reality is totally different.

“It’s been four years since the Supreme Court directed the government to revise the TJ law in line with international standards. Sadly, nothing has been done to that effect,” he further said . 

Whatever Foreign Minister Gyawali said at the UNGA, the parties are said to be working to appoint TJ commissioners without revising the relevant laws--one of the key demands of  conflict victims. The victims  have been demanding  revision of the laws related to transitional justice as per the directive of the Supreme Court and international standards so that those guilty of serious human rights violations won’t be able to escape prosecution. 

Frustrated with  Nepal’s non-compliance with international standards, six special rapporteurs of the United Nations had written a joint letter to Foreign Minister Gyawali in July. 

On June 7, Nepal’s Geneva-based embassy wrote  to the UN stating that a separate committee has been formed under the Ministry of Law to revise the TJ laws in accordance with the apex court verdict and international standards. 

However, rights activist Prasai said, “We have no idea about such a committee.” 
The government has not started any preparations to revise the laws as demanded by the victims.

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