A delay in deputing its employees to the transitional justice bodies to look into conflict era cases, has rendered the truth commissions effectively non-functional.
Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) have only a quarter of the total required staff so far. Consequently, the commissions are not in position to carry out probes into the cases of rights violations even if the government endorses the regulations and amends the Transitional Justice Act in line with the Supreme Court order.
Four months ago, the government had sanctioned 100 positions for the TRC and 70 for the CIEDP. But the TRC has only 27 staffers, while the CIEDP has 25 employees, who have been assigned to set up the commissions. The government has not deputed required number of employees to make the commissions operational.
“We wrote to the government asking for employees two months ago, but we have not heard from them,” said Shree Krishna Subedi, commissioner at the TRC, adding, “In fact, we have asked for only a dozen staff for now.”
The TRC had assessed the need for 144 posts, but the government limited the number at 100. Similarly, the CIEDP was granted only 70 posts despite its demand for 100.
“We are told that the employees are not willing to join the commissions,” said Lokendra Mallick, chairperson of the CIEDP. “There is a provision that government employees get allowance for having been deputed to other offices. But there is no provision of allowance in our office.”
A provision in the Inquiry Commission Act 1968 states that the employees should be given allowance equivalent to 60 percent of their salary if they are assigned to any probe commission.
The employees deputed to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority are entitled to allowance that is equal to their salary, while that benefit amounts to 125 percent of their salary in Parliament. Similarly, those at the Customs Office, Revenue Collection Office, Supreme Court and Attorney General Office collect allowances equivalent to 50 percent of their salary.
The Transitional Justice Act has stated that the government provides the employees necessary for the commissions. However, the commission can appoint employees on contract if the government fails to provide the number of employees required for the commission.
Besides, the political nature of the cases is another distraction for employees at the commission.
“We waited way too long for the government to depute its employees to the commission. We will start the process of recruiting employees on contract if the government continues to ignore our requests,” said Mallick, adding. The commissions have not started taking complaint from the conflict victims even a year after their establishments. The government has not cleared the legal hurdle for the commissions to proceed with their assigned tasks.
The regulations for the commissions have not been endorsed, while the act of disappearance is not criminalised. Besides, the government has not amended the provisions of the Transitional Justice Act as directed by the Supreme Court. The court has struck down around a dozen provision of the Act, regarding provision of amnesty, reconciliation, among other.