The transitional justice bodies assigned to look into conflict-era cases are struggling to streamline law and make logistical arrangements one year after they were formed.
While submitting their interim reports to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons reminded the government of their regulations and proposed amendments to the Transitional Justice Act.
The commissions are understaffed as the government has not sanctioned necessary funds. Besides, the lack of rules has prevented the commission from functioning fully. Both the commissions had forwarded their regulations to the government six months ago for endorsement. One year ago, the Supreme Court had struck down around a dozen provisions of the existing Act stating that they were inconsistent with the transitional justice norms and practices.
“We have full support to the commissions but they seem to be at a loss,” said Suman Adhikari, president of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform, an alliance of 13 organisations of victims of the decade-long insurgency. “The commissions, which have a two-year mandate, have not got the required legal documents within a year. It’s not good news for us.”
In a year, the commissions drafted their regulations and policies, suggested amendments to the Act, interacted with victims and other stakeholders and sought war-era dossiers from state bodies and the former rebel party.
“We have received some, while others have pledged them soon,” TRC Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung told the media after submitting the report to the PM. Gurung said they need some time to start taking complaints from the victims in all districts as the commissions prepare to set up their own mechanism to collect grievances. “We are hopeful that the government listens to our suggestions that don’t burden the state financially,” said Gurung.
The report draws the government’s attention to the concerns raised by the international community during the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva last November. For the first time after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, India, which mediated the 12-point agreement between the government and the Maoist rebels, had raised the issue of transitional justice with focus on rights violation and a credible transitional process in Geneva.
“It seems the Cabinet has not prioritised our regulations,” said Lokendra Mallick, chairperson of the CIEDP. According to him, the rules are still being discussed at the Bill Committee of the Cabinet.
Rights lawyer Santosh Sigdel said that the commissions were not prepared to start work immediately after the rules are passed. “They have failed to win over victims, which should have been the first task,” he said. “The commissions failed to tell the victims what to expect from them: whether it is truth or reparations or justice.”