March 29, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
PM’s pledge against impunity
Addressing a luncheon meeting with foreign diplomats at his official residence at Baluwatar on Tuesday, PM Oli said there will be no blanket amnesty on cases of serious violation of human rights and humanitarian laws. PM Oli made the right call. He told the members of international community that Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) are working to resolve transitional justice issues. He expressed commitment toward ensuring that transitional justice process is fair and free from political influence. He is spot on here. This is how transitional justice process should be taken forward and resolved. The PM was evidently trying to allay the concerns of the international community that Nepal might grant impunity to those involved in serious crimes during Maoist insurgency. However, our progress on this front has been really slow and, at times, even seems non-committal.
For one, TRC and CIEDP do not seem to be working proactively. Though the government extended the tenure of two transitional justice mechanisms by one year in February this year there is little progress on the ground. Ideally, their tenure need not have been extended for the twin bodies were entrusted to complete their works within three years time frame. Given that they could not fulfill their responsibilities due to lack of human and financial resource, necessary legislation and non-cooperation from political parties, as the two bodies claim, they should have worked on war footing after extension of the terms. This clearly is not the case at the moment. Conflict victims are still complaining of TRC and CIEDP not working to address their concerns.
It is rather distressing that in three years since the justice mechanisms were finally constituted, of the total of 60,298 complaints, TRC has hardly completed preliminary investigation on 827 cases. It has not started detailed investigation into a single case. In this context, the task for the Oli government is cut out. It should work to formulate laws as per the international standards and that also takes into account of the Supreme Court’s order of 2015. Besides, the government also needs to ensure that perpetrators of heinous crimes committed during various phases of violent protests in Tarai plains do not go scot-free. We have come a long way since the Maoist insurgency and protests in the Tarai plains. Now we have the powerful government in place with more than two-thirds majority in the parliament to formulate necessary laws to resolve war-era cases and heal the wounds of conflict victims. Now is the time for the government to ensure the conflict victims that justice will be delivered. On their part, TRC and CIEDP should come above petty infighting among the officials. One of the reasons these bodies failed to work as per the expectations of the victims was lack of coordination among them. This is unfortunate and should not be the case anymore. We hope the prime minister will walk the talk and his words will soon materialize in action. There is no other option.