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Nepal: Making a Mockery of Transitional Justice

 

It took another eight years for the Government to come up with two Commissions 1. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission and another 2.  Commission to Investigate on Enforced disappearances. 


by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

 

Each year, 30th of August  is observed as the “International Day of the Disappeared.

 

The conflict victims of the ten-year civil war in Nepal had nothing to celebrate this time.  Curiously, even the Government at the National and the Provincials level failed to observe the day either.  It is just that the Government no longer cares for the victims or for that matter the peace process itself.



Given a chance, both those, in the Government and in the opposition would like to bury the issue forever. Who cares for the near and dear ones of the victims  who have been struggling since 2006  for justice, accountability and for reparations? There are more important issues pending like providing a  seat in the National Assembly for asenior leader of the NCP- Bam Dev Gautam!

 

It was in November 21, 2006 both the Maoist leadership and the Government led by G.P.Koirala agreed in para 5.2.3 of the Comprehensive Peace Accord that “both sides agree to make public within 60 days about the real name, caste, address of the people disappeared or killed due to the War and inform the families about it.”

 

To this day, this has not been done . Most of the Maoists are in the leadership positions in the Government now and yet there is “action paralysis.”  Why is it so?  Why is it that the  issue is not  being internationalised?  Why are perpetrators of these horrendous crimes  allowed to move about freely without being named and shamed?  Why are they being allowed to move round the world without any restriction? 

 

A year after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, the families of those who disappeared moved the Supreme Court for redressal of their grievances and to know the whereabouts of those who were taken away from them. What they wanted was a speedy, transparent consultative mechanism for the redressal of the grievances.  

 

It took another eight years for the Government to come up with two Commissions 1. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission and another 2.  Commission to Investigate on Enforced disappearances. 

 

Unfortunately, from the beginning - from the constitution of members to the charter, the autonomy of the two Commissions were compromised.  

 

Till date, not a single family member of the disappeared have been told as to what happened to those who disappeared.

 

According to media sources,   3223 cases of complaints of disappearance were received and that preliminary investigations were completed in 2506 cases.  But there it stopped.  Not a single case has been taken to its logical end.

 

The provisions that were formulated for the Commission included amnesty  for torture, rape, sexual violation, ill treatment and even  disappearance!

 

The Supreme Court in its historic judgement of February 26, 2015 struck down the amnesty provisions and the Government went on appeal.  

 

The appeal of the Government was rejected  on April 27, 2020 by the Supreme Court again.  What the Court upheld was the principle that there can be no amnesty for those suspected to be responsible for crimes under international law.

 

It is said that both the Commissions had received over 63,000 complaints and hardly 3700 complaints have been investigated over all these years.  Now the excuse is given that because of the Covid- Wuhan Epidemic, the Commissions are unable to operate and investigate the complaints.  

 

With the incidence of Covid cases rising, it is doubtful whether the relatives of those who disappeared will ever get to know in their life time as to what happened to the victims  The media in Nepal is full of stories of how the near and dear ones were taken either by the Police or the Maoists during the ten year civil war and how they are still waiting to know their whereabouts

 

The idea of those perpetrators who are  either in the Army or the Government/opposition  appears to be that public memory being short, the cases will soon be forgotten! 

 

 It is hoped that the relatives of the victims who are still alive and active and those in Human Rights organisations will continue to press the Government and the Courts to bring justice and account for  those enforced disappearances.  The international organisations have equally been guilty in allowing these cases to be delayed time and again.

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