No blanket amnesty, Dahal assures TRC

Published On: August 16, 2016 02:30 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has assured the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that the government and his party are not seeking a blanket amnesty in conflict-era cases of human rights violation.

Prime Minister Dahal on Monday held a meeting with the chairman and commissioners of the TRC and expressed the government's commitment to providing necessary resources as well as the legal setup for the transitional justice mechanism.

During the meeting, Surya Kiran Gurung, the chairman of the commission, urged that the commission cannot recommend amnesty in human rights violations of a heinous nature since human rights is an issue under international jurisdiction.

According to an official present at the meeting, PM Dahal, responding to Gurung, said a misconception has been spread  that he wants a blanket amnesty for conflict-era cases. However, Dahal didn't mention who has been spreading such a misconception or elaborate what short of cases he would consider heinous.

"It was a courtesy call on the new prime minister and we briefed him on the current situation at the commission," Gurung said adding, "We also discussed the necessity of amending the existing TRC Act as well as urged him to provide necessary resources to the commission."

"The PM gave a positive response to all the issues that we raised and expressed his commitment to providing necessary resources and a legal setup for the commission," he added.

According to TRC Commissioner Madhavi Bhatta, the PM assured the commission that the government would immediately begin the task of amending the Commission for Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Person (CIEDP) and TRC Act.

The transitional justice mechanism has been urging the government to amend the Act to incorporate Supreme Court verdicts concerning the transitional justice mechanism and to make it compatible with international standards.

The TRC has also been seeking a budget of Rs 550 to 600 million and adequate staff for tackling the 53,000 plus complaints that it has received so far.    

According to Gurung, the TRC has also urged the government to pay serious attention to implementing the TRC's interim report, which emphasizes reforms in interim relief distribution to the conflict victims.

According to Commissioner Bhatta, some government officials as well as she herself raised the issue of the commission's brief tenure. The TRC has only six months left in its original tenure for settling the more than 53,000 complaints it has received. The Act has a provision on extension of tenure by a year but there is already a sense that such an extension will also not be enough to settle the huge number of cases.

Meanwhile, Bhatta urged the PM to address the demands of Ganga Maya Adhikari, who has again started a fast-unto-death demanding action against the murderers of her son.

"Adhikari's case is already in court and it does not fall under our jurisdiction but I raised the issue since it affects other conflict-era cases. However, the PM did not offer any comment on this," said Bhatta.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi, Minister for Law and Justice Ajay Shankar Nayak, Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha, and the secretaries at the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Prime Minister's Office were also present at the meeting.

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