24 Feb - 2 Mar 2017 #847

Trust and the TRC

Charan Prasai
Bikram Rai

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has wasted its first two years, and is unlikely to deliver justice to conflict victims even during the one-year tenure extended this month.

Read also:


The real truth about the Truth Commission, Om Astha Rai

The TRC blames the government for not amending its controversial Act in line with the February 2015 Supreme Court verdict against general amnesty for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights. But if it was serious, the Commission could have begun seeking truth and investigating war crimes without waiting for Parliament to amend the Enforced Disappearance Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2014. All it did in two years, however, was to collect complaints, 58,000 of them.

The composition of the TRC serves the interests of politicians who want to be absolved of guilt, and does not share the need of victims’ families for truth and justice. It took a full decade after the war ended for the TRC to even be formed. The fact that conflict victims had to go to the Supreme Court for redress proves that they never saw it as a justice mechanism. 

When Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who himself faces charges of war crimes, visited the army headquarters to assure generals that they would not be punished for their own conflict-era excesses, the TRC remained conspicuously silent. 

At a time when Nepal’s war victims need solidarity, the international community is also losing interest in Nepal’s transitional justice. That indifference could be a result of geopolitics, and an attempt to protect the peace process at the expense of justice. 

TRC members handpicked by the Maoists are loyal to PM Dahal and his comrades. Their strategy is to delay justice, take wartime crimes to the TRC and argue that they never sanctioned use of child soldiers.

If the TRC is allowed to work fairly and independently by revising its Act to follow international norms, it is conceivable that Dahal and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba will likely get a clean chit, and will no longer have to fear being arrested abroad in accordance to the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.

They are therefore wrong to try to undermine the TRC’s mandate. We want justice, not to send top leaders to jail, but to heal wounds and prevent another violent conflict in future by delivering justice today.

Charan Prasai is the Coordinator of the Accountability Watch Committee.

Read also:

Justice under threat, Tufan Neupane

Just Justice, Editorial

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