Without information, no reconciliation

Opinion: Nepal’s victims want real results from transitional justice

©©NEFADNEFAD demonstration for the disappeared in Nepal
2 min 18Approximate reading time

The one-year extensions of Nepal’s two transitional justice mechanisms without necessary legal and institutional reforms ordered by the Supreme Court and the United Nations are insufficient to comply with international standards, international human rights groups said this week. Conflict victims have welcomed the extensions, but remain dissatisfied with the commissions.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists also said that “despite flaws in the law, and questions of legitimacy and capacity, victims and their families have given the benefit of the doubt to these bodies and submitted thousands of complaints”. The National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Persons (NEFAD), a victims’ network, said in a statement: “NEFAD welcomes the extension, if the TJ bodies come up with a clear roadmap for full investigation of every case, establishing truth to give a satisfactory answer to the families, creating an environment for justice, protecting evidence and framing comprehensive reparation measures that consider family profiles and needs.”

The victims’ critical engagement with the commission process continues in a constructive manner so as to maximize the results that both commissions must achieve, as well as developing a policy of inclusion in all procedures for the victims. If the commissions again fail to fulfil victims’ demands for truth seeking and justice, people will lose faith in these mechanisms, raising serious questions of credibility for the future course of justice.

Official narrative

In the aftermath of Nepal’s most recent election, the official narrative surrounding the Nepali peace process is one of completion and success. Both national and international actors have declared that the political transition has ended and the country is moving forward towards stability and development. Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Jorg Giovanni Frieden recently expressed his satisfaction over the political shift and transformation in Nepal and suggested focusing on development projects before leaving the country after his tenure. The left alliance leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal and K.P. Oli, who has has just been appointed Prime Minister of Nepal, stated that “it’s a big shift from a complex transition, and Nepal is successfully moving towards a democratic future”. 

Independence and competence

But, as I have pointed out, both commissions are loyal to the major political parties and are continuing their work without maintaining a level of independence and competence. Both commissions, instead of raising a collective voice with the victims’ community, are in consultation with major political party leaders, who have been playing a role to derail the process and to defend alleged perpetrators since the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) was signed in 2006. As a prime example, the outgoing Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba often denies past crimes and the need to criminalize enforced disappearance, serving the interest of security forces. Both government and security forces have broken the norms of the CPA. The commissions must stand for truth. They have a big responsibility to contribute significantly through constructive engagement with victims’ network, to reconstruct the history of our recent past, advancing a real partnership with wider victims’ communities to benefit them in the whole process.

The Commissions

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) were formed in February 2015 with a two-year term to investigate past abuses, create an environment for community reconciliation, non-repetition and address victims’ needs for justice.

Over 60,000 complaints have been registered officially. Considering the ongoing investigation and the end of the transitional period, the government decided to extend their term, but without legal reforms and resources necessary to produce good outcomes. Both commissions received their first one-year extension in February 2017, and were again extended for a second year in early 2018 in order to accomplish their mandated tasks.

 

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