The National Human Rights Commission has offered its expertise and logistic support to transitional justice to train staff and collect complaints of the conflict victims from its regional and sub-regional offices.
The offer has debunked doubts over jurisdiction overlap of the national rights body and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) formed to investigate into conflict era cases.
As per the Transitional Justice Act, the national rights body has a role of monitoring the implementation the recommendations made by the commissions. The NHRC can draw the attention of the ministry concerned to cases for the purpose.
“Right of the conflict victims is the concerns of the commission,” said NHRC Chair Anup Raj Sharma. “We have had a round of talks with heads of both the commissions regarding support from our side. We need to reach a formal agreement on this regard though.”
According to Sharma, the commission would help train staff and allow its regional and district offices to collect complaints from the conflict victims as and when required. He hinted that the commission could give access to even those cases it investigated if needed.
“To coordinate with transitional justice bodies to investigate into conflict era cases is our declared objective, which is mentioned in our five-year Strategic Plan,” said Sharma.
The constitutional body, which was created in 2001, is the only authority to have documented cases of rights violations during the conflict period. The NHRC has investigated 1,577 cases of rights violations, of which 441 cases were related to extra judicial killings and 294 cases of murder.
Besides, the NHRC has recommended actions in 735 cases of grave human rights violation. So far 105 recommendations have been implemented—all of them related to providing compensation to the victims.
TRC Chairperson Surya Kiran Gurung said that they would not be able to proceed without the NHRC support given the tenure and infrastructure they have.
The transitional justice bodies were set up in February last year, nine years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They have a two-year tenure with a possible extension of one year. There are around 16,000 reported cases of killings and over 1,350 cases of disappearances. Besides, the commissions have not hired office staff, while the government has yet to endorse regulations for the bodies. “The delay in calling on victims to register complaints is not only due to delay in endorsing the regulations,” said Gurung “We are preparing our staffers and making logistic arrangements for receiving complaints from the victims.”
The NHRC would hire IT and investigating officials immediately, who would then be sent for an orientation, Gurung added. “Then we will be able to accept complaints. We hope the regulation will also be endorsed by then.”