Amid protests from victims of the decade-long insurgency, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma, on behalf of Prime Minister and Law Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, tabled a Bill to amend the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act in the House of Representatives. Pratik Ghimire of ApEx talked to Suman Adhikari, a conflict victim, to get his views on the Bill.
What’s your take on the transitional justice amendment Bill?
This Bill is just a dust in the eyes of the public. If successive governments had cared about us, they could have addressed our demands very early. The incumbent government has shown some interest to amend the Bill under much pressure. Concerned authorities drafted this instrument to serve their interests, so it is full of loopholes. For one, it has not incorporated the sentiments and demands of the conflict victims’ community.
What were your demands?
The Bill states that the tenure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission shall be of two years. But it is mum on the organizational structure of the commission, its human resource and infrastructural requirements and how it will work with different tiers of the government. The Bill is mum on the jurisdiction of the commission. Also, the tenure of the commission is not the only issue. Who all are appointed at the commission and how effectively it works; these are crucial issues. If appointments are made on the basis of recommendation from political parties, victims like us will have to suffer.
Most importantly, we wanted this draft prepared after consulting us (the victims) and incorporating our recommendations as nobody knows the pain better than us. But the drafters of the Bill never sought our suggestions. It always appears that they are doing it all for themselves, not for us.
The time has also come to review the transitional justice system.
What’s your comment on political parties’ stances?
No major party seems committed to this matter. The Nepali Congress never speaks on this topic. I was amazed to find that not a single lawmaker from the CPN-UML spoke while the Bill was being presented in the parliament. Rastriya Prajatantra Party’s Gyanendra Shahi commented on the Bill but we don’t know whether it was his personal opinion or his patry’s. Even the Rastriya Swatantra Party was silent. We had not expected this. Only Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha took a stance in our favor.
What about the international community?
They too are silent. The embassies in Nepal used to talk on this matter quite frequently a few years back. But these days, it’s rare to find them talking .
What next for the conflict victim community?
Even in the victim community, there is no single voice. Many victims are still supporting the steps of the political parties, while many others don’t care. Others like me are raising our voices constantly, we will continue to do so peacefully. We need the rule of law in the nation and justice. That’s all.