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Maintain security, confidentiality of the individuals who register complaint

Conflict victims have asked the transitional justice bodies to be extra cautious regarding confidentiality, safety as well as emotional aspects of individuals who want to register their complaints.

The Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP), an alliance of 17 organisations representing the victims who suffered at the hand of rebels and the state during a decade-long insurgency, has reiterated its support for the commissions on the conditions that victims are convinced of security, both physical and psychological, and the confidentiality of their cases are maintained.

Addressing an orientation class conducted for secretaries of Local Peace Committees (LPCs) in Kathmandu on Wednesday, CVCP Chairman Suman Adhikari said registering the cases should not be considered a technical task. “It is psychological and emotional matter,” said Adhikari. “Giving hope and security can win the confidence of the victims.”

The Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) had organised the orientation class for all 75 LPC secretaries and computer operators on the procedures of registering complaints and dealing with individuals. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is also organising orientation class for them on Thursday and Friday.

Although the victims have no complete faith on the commissions to deliver justice, the CVCP has decided to support the transitional justice process in the complaint registering process, which is set to begin from mid-April. They want guarantee of security of individuals as well as information given to the commissions.

“Many of the victims will be recording of their testimonies for the first time,” said Ram Bhandari, president of National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing, Nepal. “So we want sensitivity from officials in dealing with individuals while registering their cases.”

Bhandari, who is also the CVCP general secretary, said the victims’ support depends on the commissions’ activities. “We decided to engage with the process to make the commissions responsible,” he said. “We hope we will not have to confront you in this process.”

The victims have raised the issue of confidentiality of testimonies and security of individuals with the National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC) as well. The national rights body has registered around 4,000 conflict-era cases. The transitional justice bodies have asked for those cases from the NHRC, invoking the Transitional Justice Act. As per the law, all conflict-era cases, except sub-judice ones, come under the purview of the TRC and the CIEDP.

As per the Act, the commissions should provide security to individuals who receive threats for registering complaints. However, the commissions seem to have failed to assure victims of their security and confidentiality of the cases so far.

Ishwari Poudyal, secretary at the Ministry of Peace, instructed the LPC secretaries to coordinate with their respective local administration to maintain the confidentiality of the cases. “Breaching confidentiality of the cases is criminal, and will be dealt accordingly,” he said.

Poudyal also told them not to bow down to political pressure. “If you do, you will fail the nation,” he said.

Bishnu Sharma, LPC secretary from Salyan district, appealed all sides not to doubt their intention. “Since most of the secretaries are conflict victims as well, they will give their best to help this process,” she said.

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