The government has finally endorsed the regulation of the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), giving a much needed impetus to the delayed transitional justice process, however, with removal of key provisions.
A review committee of the Cabinet has removed the commission’s power to arrest the accused if needed. The provision would empower the commission to summon the accused at its office for statement. The committee removed the provision arguing that it was inconsistent with the Transitional Justice Act. As per the Act, the commission is to make recommendation for legal action.
Similarly, the power to confiscate the passport of the accused has also been removed on the same ground. “The provisions were proposed to compel the accused to obey the commission’s directives,” said Commissioner Ai Bahadur Gurung, adding, “What if an accused ignores the repeated requests to show up at the commission to record the statement?”
The draft regulation had included a provision to order the concerned authority to confiscate the passport of such accused considering possibility of their leaving the land.
“The regulation is required to cover the issues left out by the Act but not contradict it,” said Gurung, “The provisions were well thought out to investigate into the cases and establish the truth.”
The draft regulation was forwarded to the government for approval six months ago. However, coalition partners were at odds over provisions of the regulation. Besides, the recent court orders related to the conflict-era cases angered the former rebel party UCPN (Maoist), a major coalition partner in the current government, causing further delay in endorsement of the regulation.
The government had endorsed the regulation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) last week, as there were no “contradicting provisions”.
In the absence of the regulations, both the commissions were out of business. Their activities have been limited to holding interactions with conflict victims and other stakeholders for the past one year. The regulations will be effective only after they appear in the national gazette, which officials at the Peace Ministry said would take at least a week. Although both the commissions claim to have laid down groundwork for taking complaints from the conflict victims, they lack of proper mechanism and staff to register such complaints. Besides, the government has yet to release the required budget for the commissions for their smooth functioning.
The transitional justice bodies, mandated for two years with a possible extension of one year, were created a year ago to look into the conflict-era cases. A total of 16,000 people were killed, 1,400 disappeared, around 20,000 tortured and 25,000 people were displaced during a decade-long armed insurgency.