The lack of clarity on definition of disappearance has stalled the preliminary investigation into the complaints registered with the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP).
The commission, which has completed screening of the 2,917 complaints, has faced obstacle in carrying out preliminary investigation of the complaints, in which relatives of the victims have registered the death of the disappeared persons. “We are supposed to find out the truth behind the disappearance of a person,” said CIEDP Chairperson Lokendra Mallick. “The incidents of death falls under the jurisdiction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
The government has not amended the transitional justice law even after the Supreme Court ordered to streamline it. Besides, the government has not criminalised the act of disappearance. The commission had requested the government to reform the law and enact a new law a year ago.
The commission has also received the complaints of the victims, who have received compensation provided by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. It has been tallying the claims of the complaints with details documented by the National Human Rights Commissions, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, district administration offices, security agencies and rights organisations to substantiate them.
“We have not been able to decide how to deal with complaints of the individuals who were detained incommunicado for weeks and months,” said Mallick, “We cannot proceed with the investigation amidst legal conundrum.”
The temporary hostage can be defined either as kidnapping or torture, which comes under the jurisdiction of the TRC. The CIEDP argues that only continuous disappearance come under its jurisdiction. The lack of legal clarity has also hampered in establishing the exact number of cases of disappearance. The commission has so far received 2,917 complaints.
The Peace Ministry, which provided compensation for the conflict victims, has maintained a record of 1,475 disappeared persons, while the NHRC has recorded around 900 cases. An updated report of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nepal Red Cross Society has put the number of missing persons at 1,334.
The commission in second screening of the complaints has found over 300 incidents which did not take place during the insurgency period. The commission is supposed to look into incidents that took place between February 16, 1996 and November 21, 2006 and should be linked to the insurgency.
The commission has not yet decided to shelve any complaints as the law has not defined the incident of disappearance clearly. However, the CIEDP has been exchanging complaints with the TRC. The CIEDP has already passed 12 complaints on to the TRC, while it has received 58 complaints from the TRC.