Proposed political mechanism may derail ongoing progress: TJ officials

Published On: November 25, 2018 05:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 25: Members of the transitional justice (TJ) bodies formed to settle conflict-era cases have warned that discontinuation of the existing TJ bodies to form a political mechanism in their place, as proposed by a section of rights activists and some of the conflict victims, may further complicate the situation and derail ongoing progress in settling the conflict-era cases.

A majority of conflict victims have proposed forming a political mechanism comprising conflict victims and experts to settle the long-pending conflict-era cases. Over 65,000 such cases are pending at the TJ bodies—the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP).

Arguing that the existing TRC and CIEDP had failed to resolve the conflict-era cases, a large section of conflict victims have come up with the proposal on forming the political mechanism so that such cases could be settled at the earliest. These conflict victims believe settling the cases could gather momentum once a new political mechanism is in place. Those proposing the new body have argued that such a mechanism can expedite the process through the building of trust among the major parties to the 10-year Maoist armed insurgency.

Representatives of political parties, rights activists, conflict victims, and security and other officials are assembling in Bangkok this week to chart a way for truth seeking and reparations and to work on national policies for resolving conflict-era cases. However, conflict victims remain divided over the new mechanism.

The transitional justice officials, meanwhile, worry the political mechanism could invite legal complications if the existing bodies are terminated. They also warn that questions could be raised against the political mechanism at national and international forums if it does not meet national and international standards.

“We don't demand our continuity but discontinuation of the existing commissions will further delay justice delivery . It may raise legal questions as well,” CIEDP Chairman Lokendra Mallik told Republica.

The CIEDP, which has registered 3,193 cases related to disappeared persons, has already completed preliminary investigations for around 2,000 cases. Of the total cases registered at the commission, 2,512 were categorized for special investigations. Of those disappeared during the insurgency, 14 individuals have since come into contact their families .

“We hope we can complete preliminary investigation of the cases filed from 65 of the districts . We will submit an incomplete report to the government before the commission's term expires in mid-February,” said Mallik.

While it has completed preliminary investigations into most of the cases of disappeared persons, CIEDP has not been able to provide reparations to victims due to lack of laws, funds and a reparations modality, said Mallik.

TRC, which has gathered 63,000 conflict-era complaints, has completed preliminary investigations into only 3,500 as of now. It's seven regional offices are still investigating the cases. Lack of funds, manpower and legal hurdles have greatly affected the work.

TRC Commissioner Lila Udasi said the commission could not expedite its work due to several shortcomings . “Uncertainty is rife whether a new mechanism will be successful given that the conflict victims themselves are now divided into two camps,” said Udasi adding, “Political will is key .”

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