KATHMANDU, Aug 8: The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said that Nepal’s transitional justice mechanisms must undergo serious reform in line with international human rights standards and the directives of Nepal’s Supreme Court in order to provide justice for victims of conflict-era human rights violations and abuses.
In its discussion paper “Nepal’s Transitional Justice Process: Challenges and Future Strategy” released on Tuesday, the ICJ concludes with the identification of the strategies for civil society organizations and victims’ representatives to address the challenges of Nepal’s transitional justice process.
“The voices heard in our consultations provide a stark reminder that more than ten years after the end of the conflict and over two years since the Commissions of Inquiry were established, victims of serious human rights violations and abuses are still searching for justice,” said Frederick Rawski, ICJ’s Director for Asia and the Pacific.
The discussion summarizes the key challenges faced by Nepal’s transitional justice process as identified by conflict victims, representatives of human rights organizations, lawyers and other stakeholders during consultations held in Pokhara, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj and a national roundtable meeting in Kathmandu in May and June.
The key challenges identified by the participants include lack of political will to address past human rights violations and abuses; inadequate legislative framework to address conflict-era human rights violations and abuses; lack of adequate human, financial and technical resources for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) and the Commission on Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and failure of the TRC and CIEDP to take measures to gain the confidence of conflict victims.
Inadequate procedures to ensure confidentiality and security for victims and witnesses, lack of coordination among the commissions and other state institutions responsible for addressing conflict-era human rights violations and abuses and failure of the commissions to adopt credible and transparent processes for their work are also among the challenges to provide justice for victims of conflict-era human rights violations and abuses.
As of July 2017, the TRC has received 58,052 complaints of human rights violations, and the CIEDP has received 2,874 complaints of alleged enforced disappearances. Since the ICJ held its consultations on the operation of the transitional justice mechanisms, the commissions have started preliminary investigations in some of the cases.
ICJ also said the investigations made so far are flawed. While the investigation teams have inadequate human and financial resources to handle the large number of cases there are concerns about the opacity of the appointment process of the investigators; and the commissions have taken no measures to ensure confidentiality and security of victims and witnesses who participate in the investigations.
“As the Commissions start preliminary investigations into complaints of human rights violations and abuses, they must ensure both victims’ access to justice, as well as the security and confidentiality of victims and other witnesses,” the ICJ statement quoted ICJ’s Asia Pacific Director as saying.