| October 25, 2020

House panel asks TRC not to bring disputes out in media

KATHMANDU, Feb 27: Parliament's Social Justice and Human Rights Committee has asked the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) not to bring its internal disputes out in social networking web sites or the mass media.

The House committee on Friday summoned commissioners of the TRC and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) to discuss their functionings during the 13 months since their formation.

"The committee draws the attention of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to resolve within itself the internal disputes that arise in the course of its functioning and not bring these out in the social networks and mass media," reads the committee's decision.

Commissioners at the TRC have lately been disputing among one another over various issues. The disputes had surfaced following news reports about the TRC's decision to postpone a visit to Bandarmudhe, Chitwan and a note of dissent by Commissioner Madhavi Bhatta over the commission's decision to send delegations to Chile, Peru, the Philippines and Cambodia. At the height of the disputes last week, the TRC relieved Commissioner Bhatta of her responsibilities as spokesperson.

Lawmaker Tej Kumari Paudel and Committee Chair Sushil Kumar Shrestha asked the commissioners about news reports on the latest disputes within the TRC.

After the lawmakers raised questions about the disputes during the House panel meeting on Friday, Commissioner Bhatta asked for time to clarify the issues but Chairman Shrestha refused this and asked TRC Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung to furnish the answers.

"It was unfortunate that the disputes within the commission came out in public through media. The commission wants to be transparent but only to the extent that it will not affect its functioning," Gurung told lawmakers.

Following this, the House committee did not discuss the issue of disputes any further and, moving ahead, decided to ask the commissioners to maintain secrecy about such disputes.

Directs to prepare work plans within 15 days

Meanwhile, the House committee has directed both the TRC and CIEDP to prepare their work plans and calendars within the next two weeks.

"The committee directs the CIEDP and TRC to update the data on conflict victims and prepare their respective work plans and calendars on a credible basis and make these available to the committee within 15 days," the committee decision reads.

The House committee on Friday asked the commissioners of both commissions about the tasks completed by the commissions toward delivering justice to the victims of the decade-long armed conflict. Following the discussion, the House committee drew the conclusion that both the commissions are yet to begin the real task of carrying out investigations and establishing the truth.

"The Act itself has set out a time period of two years for the commissions. As per the Act, there could be an extension of another one year but both commissions are yet to come up with detail work plans. If the commissions have any problems in their functioning, you (commissioners) can come to this committee," said Committee Chairman Shrestha.

During the discussions at the House committee, TRC Chairman Gurung and CIEDP Acting Chairman Bijul Bishwakarma said both the commissions are still waiting for their respective working regulations to be published in the Nepal Gazette before calling on the victims to lodge complaints.

"We accept that we are unable to function at a desired speed but in the absence of regulations we are visiting the conflict hit districts and conducting discussions with the victims and authorities concerned," said Gurung.

"We have been asking the government to bring a law that criminalizes and penalizes acts of enforced disappearance; we have been waiting for the regulations. We are not getting enough budgetary funds and human resources," Bishwakarma said, gaving an explanation.

House panel directs govt

Following the discussion with the commissioners, the House committee directed the government, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of General Administration to provide all needed physical and administrative infrastructures, the required human resources and budgets to the transitional justice mechanism.

The committee had issued similar directions to the government and the ministries before this also.