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Victims not sure of due justice

The annual work plans of the transitional justice bodies have failed to impress the conflict victims, who termed it sketchy and devoid of details.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) rescheduled their work plans this week as the previous ones became obsolete due to the government’s delay in formalising their regulations. Both the commissions plan to start registering complaints from the victims from mid-April.

“The call for filing complaints from the victims is merely a component of the larger process of addressing the concerns of the victims,” said Suman Adhikari, chairperson of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform. “But the commissions have failed to come up with their complete plans as to what happens after collecting the complaints.”

The work plans were finalised 13 months after the formation of the commissions, which practically leave only 11 months for the commissions to look into cases from the decade-long insurgency. An estimated 16,000 deaths, 1,400 disappearances, 20,000 cases of torture and an unknown number of rapes took place during the insurgency between 1996 and 2006.

There is a provision of possible extension of the commissions’ tenure by one year if they need more time to investigate into the cases.

Given the number of incidents and tenure of the commission, victims are not hopeful about their concerns to be addressed. “We don’t want the commission to cherry-pick cases,” said Adhikari. “They could register all the cases if they started on time but they don’t seem to have done enough preparations to register cases, conduct public hearings and investigate into cases.”

The CIEDP has set aside three months to collect cases while the TRC has only two months during which the conflict victims are to file their complaints at the Local Peace Committees (LPC).

As the LPCs are all-party mechanisms, the victims have voiced their concern over their neutrality in registering the cases. The TRC has decided to form an oversight body, comprised of victims and rights defenders, to oversee the committee and assist conflict victims to register their complaints.

Victims argued that the commissions could have come up with reforms in the LPC composition, for instance vetting of the committee members and new terms of reference for the members.

Victims fear that the commissions could get selective evidence from the LPCs, which may ultimately weaken the cases.

The commissions have not yet laid out the groundwork for the protection of witness, hiring of experts and the investigation process.

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