KATHMANDU, Nov 7: Expressing disappointment over the failure of transitional justice mechanisms to provide them justice, victims of the decade-long Maoist armed insurgency have demanded a high-level mechanism with ownership by political actors and other stakeholders, to expedite the transitional justice process.
Speaking at an interaction organized by the Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP) in the capital on Wednesday to discuss ways to ensure transitional justice, Maoist insurgency victims and transitional justice experts said it is difficult to ensure transitional justice unless the mechanisms formed to provide justice are backed by all the major political parties.
Arguing that the integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants had been possible as the Special Committee on Monitoring, Rehabilitation and Integration formed for that purpose had political representation, they demanded that the government form a similar mechanism to steer the transitional justice process. They argued that a technical committee could be formed under the aegis of such a mechanism to facilitate the implementation of decisions taken.
Dev Bahadur Maharjan, an insurgency victim from Lalitpur, said although they initially fought for the formation of the transitional justice mechanisms they no longer had any hope of justice from these bodies. “Of course, we fought for the formation of the transitional justice mechanisms. But since there are questions over their formation, the choice of the commissioners and their working style, we no longer have any faith in justice from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) or the Commission for Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP),” Maharjan said.
Although the government formed the TRC and CIEDP some fours year ago, lack of political will coupled with legislation that failed to adopt a victim-centric approach has rendered them unable to do anything tangible. This leaves Nepal’s peace process – that included the three vital components of army integration, constitution drafting and transitional justice – still incomplete.
Speaking on the occasion, CVCP Chairperson Bhagiram Chaudhary said it is high time all the conflict victims became united to exert pressure on the government to accord them justice. “This discussion was aimed at bringing in a new policy of action and struggle to achieve the goal,” he said.
Chaudhary said although they are in favor of settling the transitional justice issues through Nepal’s unique method, they are against granting general amnesty to those involved in criminal activities under the garb of politics. “Any such process must ensure legal and social justice to the victims of the Maoist insurgency,” he further said.
Human rights activist Sushil Pyakurel said the transitional justice mechanisms had failed due to lack of political will. Since army integration, the two CA elections and even the constitution drafting process were made possible due to a political process, the transitional justice process also needed to be guided by a mechanism backed by the political leadership.
Transitional justice experts Geja Sharma Wagle and Tika Dhakal pointed out the need to adopt a holistic approach that included setting up a political mechanism, launching a national campaign to recognize the contribution of those killed in the insurgency, formulating a reparations and reconciliation policy and legislation to deal with those involved in crimes against humanity during the insurgency.
Tuesday’s interaction with insurgency victims was the fifth of its kind held over the past two weeks. The CVCP has decided to hold a national convention in Kathmandu on November 20-21 to come up with a new strategy to pressure the government to expedite transitional justice.