KATHMANDU, July 16: A member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has criticized a recent TRC decision to assign the chief district officers (CDOs) to receive conflict-era complaints from victims citing confidentiality and security concerns.
TRC had sought complaints from the victims of the decade-long armed conflict for a period of 60 days initially, and later supplemented this with another 30 days till July 17. Victims in the district filed their complaints through the local peace committees. But as the terms of the local peace committees expired on July 15, the TRC decided to receive the victims' complaints for the remaining two days through the CDOs.
A member of the TRC, Madhabi Bhatta, has drawn the attention of TRC Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung in writing pointing out that confidentiality and security would be compromised if the CDOs are assigned the task. The TRC had earlier requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to delegate special authority to all District Administration Offices to receive the complaints till July 17.
“The decision to allow the CDOs to receive victims' complaints is in breach of the basic rules and norms of the TRC and undermines the invaluable suggestions that have been floated during the commission's meetings,” Bhatta said.
Ever since the TRC started receiving complaints from the victims, the security agencies and local government bodies had expressed serious concerns over the complaints registered, and a few secretaries of the local peace committees also received threats for their refusal to compromise secrecy.
“If the authorities other than the local peace committee gain access to the complaints, which should be kept confidential, the security of the complainants will be compromised, important evidences might be destroyed, hidden or manipulated,” Bhatta added.
Bhatta has also criticized the chairman's "monopoly" in making decisions despite her repeated requests to make the decision-making procedure more transparent and democratic.
She has also proposed that the term of the local peace committees be extended by a week.
TRC will however continue receiving complaints from conflict victims till six months prior to the completion of its tenure. The commission, formed in February 2010, has been mandated to complete its task within two years and under special circumstances one year would be added if need be.