The term of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) extended by one year with the task of completing probe on crimes committed during its decade-long civil war. This is the third extension for commissions because the tasks of probing the war era crimes are yet to begin. With the extension of the tenure of the commissions, new provision is made that the terms of the commissions’ chairpersons and members will expire after mid-April, which contradicts to the earlier provision that their term was fixed till the dissolution of the commissions.
The government would have inserted the new provision either compel the commissions’ chairpersons and members to complete their given task before expiring their terms or to be ready to resign before completing their tenure. As the commissions’ mandates were to expire on Saturday without resolving a single cases related to the transitional justice even after four years and two extensions of tenure we have to salute the government for avoiding legal vacuum. However, people, particularly the family members of the war era victims, are not assured yet that victims of the war ere crimes would get justice as per the international norms and values under the leadership of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led incumbent government.
The commissions had initially been given two years in 2015 to probe abuses by government forces and Maoist rebels during the decade long conflict, begun from 1996 to 2006, that resulted 17,876 deaths, 1,500 disappearances, 9,000 injured and 80,000 displaced. It is said that about 65,000 complaints have also already been filed to the two commissions-one investigating an estimated 3,000 forced disappearances and the other focusing on crimes such as rape and murder. But the two commissions failed to prosecute war era crimes except just two convictions related to civil war-era crimes have been handed down in civilian courts- one linked to the murder of a teenage girl and the other concerning the killing of a journalist.
Though the will power of the commissions’ chairpersons and members would have hollowed the entire four year tenure, the reconciliation process, which has been poorly designed from the outset and stymied and lacks of funding as well as political will, has played a crucial role for the nonfunctioning of the commissions. Though the tenure is extended by one year with the tile limit pressure to the chairpersons and members of the commissions but not with necessary clout to prosecute war crimes, it is likely that the commissions would do nothing within the extended period but chairpersons and members of the commissions would tender their resignation paving the way to the government either to appoint their nearer and dearer or to settle the transitional justice on their own ways and style.
As the government had attempted to form a separate mechanism under the leadership of law minister with the mandate to deal on the cases related to the transitional justices, it is likely that the government would adopt any policy counterfeiting to the commissions, though such an attempt was averted from the widespread protests. As not only the incumbent government but almost all formed during the period and political parties have failed to deliver their promises to resolve the issue of transitional justice, Nepal’s transitional justice process has increasingly fallen under increasing scrutiny of international community.
It is certain that the main objective of probing of crimes committed during its decade-long civil war would not be fulfilled until and unless these commissions were not advanced with necessary laws, mechanism and process as per the international standards. Not only the victims of both the sides in Nepal but also the international community has cautiously been watching the transitional justice mechanism of the country even rising questions for the delay to meet the international standers. As the international community as well as the family members of the victims have repeatedly been insisting that there should be broad public trust in the process of settling the transitional justice, the government has to crate environment conducive to settle the transitional justice system from the existing mechanism by empowering them as per the international norms and standers.