| June 27, 2019

TRC, CIEDP upbeat over high number of complaints filed

KATHMANDU, June 7: Officials of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) are encouraged by the high number of complaints being registered at the two transitional justice mechanisms.

CIEDP has received 1,778 complaints so far while TRC has already received 17,631 complaints. The number of complaints received by CIEDP exceeds the government record of only 1,495 cases of disappearances during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.
"Initially, there were fears among victims and human rights defenders that the commissions might not be victim-centric. There was mistrust initially but we have overcome that situation. The way we are receiving complaints has encouraged us," said Prof Bishnu Pathak, the spokesperson of CIEDP.

"We have not run into any difficulties so far and are receiving an encouraging number of complaints," said TRC Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung.

According to Chairman Gurung, TRC has already started preliminary investigations to establish whether or not the complaints fall under the jurisdiction of the commission, as well as to categorize the complaints as per the nature of the crimes involved.

He also informed that the commissioners, including himself, are visiting different districts and holding interactions with the victims. They are also monitoring the complaints process.

Likewise, CIEDP has prepared files on more than 500 complaints and assigned investigators for each of them. "The investigators will complete the preliminary investigations into each file within a month of being assigned," said Pathak.

Pathak also informed that CIEDP has been conducting training for its officers on investigation procedures and on how to fill the ante-mortem forms. "CIEDP will send officials to the homes of the victims to fill in ante-mortem data and it could take one more month to start this process," said Pathak.

Political speeches and actions cause dilemma for victims

Both the officials said that the actions and utterances of political leaders on transitional justice issues sometimes created dilemma for the victims.

Pathak said that the registration of complaints slumped for a few days after the two ruling parties -- CPN-UML and then UCPN (Maoist) -- signed their nine-point agreement. He claimed that following that agreement the commission had to work hard to regain the trust of the victims and encourage them to file their complaints.

The two parties had agreed in their deal to initiate an amendment of the laws on transitional justice within 15 days, register ownership of lands transacted on the strength of household papers during the conflict era on the basis of those same documents, and immediately initiate a process for the withdrawal or amnestying of so-called political cases filed during the insurgency and at other times.

Besides the deal between the ruling parties, main opposition leader and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba recently made a comment in public that no action should be taken against any security personnel over the conflict-era cases.

"Political comments on transitional justice could create some confusion for the victims but TRC is firm in its intention of carrying out its tasks as per the provisions of the CIEDP and TRC Act," said TRC Chairman Gurung.

"TRC is clear that any amendment to the existing act should be only for meeting international standards and adhering to court verdicts. We are not bothered by politicians' comments or actions as we are governed by the laws," he added.