November 30, 2019 08:32 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Nov 30: The process of appointing the commissioners of the two transitional justice (TJ) bodies has hit a snag after the major political parties became divided over the nominees and as both conflict victims and rights activists continue to protests, demanding the initiation of a fresh appointments process.
Under pressure from various stakeholders, a meeting of the government-formed recommendations committee that was supposed to take place this week has been deferred.
After holding its first meeting last Saturday, the recommendations committee headed by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra had decided to make the final recommendations in a couple of days. Since then the committee has studied the complaints registered with it but it has not been able to organize another meeting.
“It seems it will take more time. I have heard the committee chairman is going to the US on a family trip,” said Sharmila Karki, a members of the committee. “So, we are not going to be sitting for discussions soon.”
Immediately after working out the initial list of probable commissioners for the TJ bodies—Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons—the committee had vowed to recommend the final list at the earliest. The committee, however, faced an obstacle after ruling Nepal Communist Party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal came out in favor of appointing entirely new commissioners contrary to the committee’s preliminary recommendation to appoint former commissioners.
Initially, the committee had proposed to re-appoint the entire board of the CIEDP. Former TRC commissioners Madhabi Bhatta, Shri Krishna Subedi and Manchala Jha were also proposed as new commissioner appointees.
Likewise, Ganesh Datta Bhatta, an assistant lecturer at Nepal Law Campus, was proposed as head of the TRC.
Meanwhile, conflict victims united under the banner of the Conflict Victims Common Platform registered complaints raising questions over the competence of the nominees.
Victims have demanded a guarantee of justice for the conflict victims through a revision of the existing TJ law and the initiation of a transparent appointments process based on consultations. Conflict victims started protesting after the recommendations committee recommended some former commissioners for the same positions.
Conflict victims are miffed mainly over the recommendation of former commissioners Bhatta and Subedi. Former TRC head Surya Kiran Gurung was forced to quit before his term expired due to infighting between Bhatta and Subedi.
“We are concerned over the entire appointments process and about the choice of some nominees, especially those who failed to exert leadership in the transitional justice process in the past,” said Suman Adhikari, one of the conflict victims.
The National Human Rights Commission, for its part, has threatened to withdraw its representative from the recommendations committee, indicating political intervention and non-transparency in the commissioners recommendation process.
Also, four international rights bodies – International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and TRIAL International – have raised questions about the recommendations process. They have warned of investigating and prosecuting human rights violators anywhere in the world if justice is denied under the national human rights framework in Nepal.
After the government failed to renew the terms of the then commissioners of both the TJ bodies, questioning their ability to lead, the Mishra-led committee was formed in April. But the committee has not been successful so far.