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Editorial: Focus on transitional justice

Editorial: Focus on transitional justice

It has been more than a year since Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said concluding transitional justice is one of his key priorities. However, there has been no progress in resolving the disputes among parties regarding some contents of the transitional justice amendment bill pending in the Parliament. Parties have yet to reach a consensus on whether to categorize arbitrary killings or all killings except those resulting from clashes as serious human rights violations. Conflict victims argue that all extrajudicial killings, mental torture and physical torture should be labeled as serious violation of human rights.

While parties may differ on ways to approach these issues, it is not difficult to resolve them if there is political will and honesty among the major parties. Since the inception of the peace process in 2006, parties have used the transitional justice issue as a bargaining tool rather than making serious, sustained efforts to resolve it. Just before the recent change in the coalition government, parties told people they were in negotiation to reach consensus on contentious issues and claimed that they were close to an agreement. With the formation of the new coalition, however, parties have not touched on the issue. Previously, the CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN-UML were at loggerheads on contentious issues while the NC appeared flexible. Now, the Maoists and UML seem flexible to compromise, while the NC appears tough.

The international community is one of the major stakeholders in Nepal's transitional justice process. It has reservations about some provisions in the amendment bill. Similarly, the concerns of conflict victims must be addressed to avoid societal conflict in the future. Since it has been almost two decades since the Maoists joined the peace process, transitional justice should be accorded the highest priority. It should not be a bargaining tool for state power. As the head of the government, Dahal should make extra efforts to resolve the contentious issues. So far, it seems Dahal is seeking ways to avoid prosecuting even those involved in serious human rights violations. The issue of transitional justice can be settled easily if Maoist leaders accept the international standards and honor Supreme Court verdicts.