Victims warn against attempts to reappoint TJ ex-commissioners

Published On: November 25, 2019 07:36 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 25: As the committee formed to recommend office bearers for the two transitional justice (TJ) bodies prepares to publish a final list of candidates, conflict victims have warned of serious consequences if the ongoing recommendation process is not halted. 

The victims say they could boycott the TJ process if former commissioners are re-appointed and their demand for formulation of a victim-friendly law before commissioners’ appointment, is ignored.

The committee headed by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra had last week published a list of probable candidates proposing Ganesh Datta Bhatta as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and re-appointment of the entire erstwhile board with Lokendra Mallick as head in the Commission for the Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). 

Similarly, former TRC members Madhavi Bhatta, Shri Krishna Subedi and Manchala Jha have been proposed as members of TRC.

Victims united under the banner of the Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP) have opposed the recommendation committee’s move saying it could further derail the ongoing TJ process. 

Dismayed by the recommendations and the ‘non-transparent recommendation process’, the victims had submitted a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asking it to stay away from the recommendation process. NHRC has Prakash Wasti as its representative in the recommendation committee. 

Conflict victims feel the TJ process could fail if the same commissioners, who were earlier retired for incompetence, are re-appointed to the TJ bodies with the mandate of settling long-delayed justice process.

Appointed in 2015, the chiefs and members of both the commissions had retired in April this year after the government didn’t extend their terms questioning their ability to lead the TJ process. Consequently, over 65,000 complaints related to rights violation during the decade-long Maoist insurgency have been left unaddressed. 

The recommendation committee published the list of candidates last week, just three days after major political parties agreed to make Ganesh Datta Bhatta, an assistant professor at Nepal Law Campus, the head of the TRC. 

Bhatta is lesser-known personality in sector of human rights and transitional justice. This has created controversy. 

Conflict victims view Bhatta as a consensus candidate of major political parties.

“Shouldn’t they feel ashamed to claim the same positions even after failing to lead the transitional justice process? There are other offices if they are really desperate for a job,” said Bhagiram Chaudhari, the president of the CVCP, adding, “We don’t trust the nominees. They are like agents mobilized to derail justice.”  

In an interview with Republica, Chaudhari said his organization has clearly put forth their demands—dissolution of the recommendation committee to initiate a fresh recommendation process by involving the victims and formation of a mechanism to hold nationwide consultations for revising the TJ law.

“Mere appointment of commissioners that too the same incompetent faces is  not acceptable,” said Chaudhari. 

CVCP has already submitted its demand at the secretariat of the recommendation committee.  Considering the complaint from the victims’ organization, the committee has deferred the final recommendation process.

Sharmila  Karki, spokesperson of the committee said, the meeting couldn’t make decision considering a few complaints registered at the committee. She indicated that their final recommendation could come within a few days.

“We welcome the recommendation deferral. We will continue to press our demands,” said Chaudhari.

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