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Nepal's TRC ordinance is a product of an illegitimate process

May 27, 2013

An ordinance creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, passed by Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav on March 14 this year was prepared without consulting victims or human rights institutions. The edifice was necessitated by the 2006 peace accords. But addressing the legacy of the civil conflict that plagued Nepal between 1996 and 2006 pose complex challenges. Janak Raut, Chairperson of the Conflict Victims' Society For Justice, Nepal, expresses his reservations on a process that he feels is illegitimate.

Janak Raut

As the ordinance on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), has been put forth by the government at a time when Parliament does not exist in the country it has to be invalidated. The caretaker government should not have dared to bring such type of ordinance as per its discretion.

It was brought by the government without consulting with the conflict victims. Therefore, its process is illegitimate. Also, the government did not publicize the ordinance before recommending the President for its approval. I think, the ordinance is one sided. I, therefore, do not see any guarantee that this will do justice for the conflict victims. Currently, the Ordinance is pended at the President’s. We have even requested the President not to approve it but it will be unfortunate if he endorses without revising its contents. Hopefully, he will heed our concerns and problems.

This ordinance seems to have been brought so as to exculpate the perpetrators of armed conflict and it is politically motivated at the same time. As they were also involved in the human rights violations during armed conflict in the past, other political parties too do not want to form the commissions in reality. They are scared that the would-be formed commission on the TRC and on the disappearances if formed by adopting due process it might punish them. Many commissions formed by the government in the past failed since their recommendations were not followed by the political leaders. If the commissions in question are trying to be formed on the basis of the political division, these will also fail. As these are supposed to provide justice to the conflict victims based on the transitional justice, they should be quite different from those commissions formed in the past.

The interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provides that an independent commission would be formed to investigate into the incidents committed during insurgency in the past. Although legislations to investigate into the general incidents related with the criminal activities are in place in Nepal, no legal provisions are there to investigate into the incidents of enforced disappearances. Hence, a commission as such is indispensable. Conflict victims, in addition to many organizations working for them, have been advocating for separate two commissions.  We have also urged the government to include the cases of enforced disappearance under the criminal cases as per the international standards.

The current ordinance on the TRC has proposed that Attorney General can be active while implementing the recommendations of the commissions. In our country, Attorney General is appointed by the parties in governance.  So, I doubt these ruling parties will prosecute their own leaders and cadres who were involved in grave human rights violations in the past. Politically and comparatively, the number of victims representing the UCPN Maoist is more than that of other political parties. Therefore, the party should have been sensitive towards victims’ issues. Surprisingly, however, the party has disregarded its own cadres and the conflict victims in general.

On behalf of the conflict victims, I would like to ascertain that conflict victims are not seeking for any space in the commissions. Our concern is that the commissions as such should not be formed to exonerate the perpetrators of grave human rights violations without victims’ permission. However, at least one member from among the conflict victims should be included in the commission because he/she knows the problems of the conflict victims more than other outsiders do.

We are still hopeful that the government will take positive steps for us. We are also optimistic that political parties will resolve our issues sooner or later. The sooner it happens, the better it would be.  The family members of the victims are looking forward to performing their beloved members’ final rituals as per their cultures. Many family members are still awaiting justice. If the government goes against our pains and concerns, we will organize national and international campaigns to ensure that we receive due justice.

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