The issue of justice and impunity is once more in the
headlines because of the promotion of Toran Bahadur Singh, the in-charge
of the infamous Bhairabnath base, and the armyís attempt to prevent
Niranjan Basnet from appearing in a civilian court.
Such blatant attempts to obstruct the path of justice
have significantly weakened Nepalís human rights movement and have also
given the Maoists an excuse to get away with their own abuses. The issue
of transitional justice and truth has become a charade.
Government bodies and human rights groups currently dealing with missing
persons also display a lack of seriousness regarding justice for the
Perpetrators of war crimes, far from being punished,
are being rewarded. Supreme Court verdicts and court directives have
The families of the disappeared have been forgotten
and their need for truth, justice and compensation have been
deliberately ignored. Their uncertainty and pain is felt daily because
they still donít know whether their loved ones are dead or alive. This
trauma is accentuated by the psychological, economic, social, political
and legal problems that they have to bear.
The victimsí movement is becoming increasingly
disillusioned and weakened by political divisions and the interests of
NGOs and donors. Transitional justice has been an elite discourse
limited to urban centres. The affected rural families are unsure about
how the process will work, the results being promised and whether it
represents the fulfillment of their demands or not.
The Disappearance Bill drafted in Kathmandu, which
was approved in late 2009, focuses largely on amnesty and
reconciliation. But how can we have true reconciliation through a bill
drafted by the movers and shakers in Kathmandu without a word of input
from those affected by what the billproposes to correct? The Bill itself
will likely linger before the Disappearance and Truth Commissions, and
with no timetable for its acceptance, the government is off the hook on
ending impunity and delivering justice to the families. The
Disappearance Commission should have been formed after the peace accord
if the political parties were really serious about it. Now the
government is preparing to just go through the motions of performing a
ritual to keep donors happy. And why do we need two commissions?
In the villages, a single family is often a victim of
different cases involving disappearances, killings, torture and rape.
Family members donít need to face two commissions and go through the
excruciating trauma of publicly reliving their memories. If the
government and political parties are serious, they should ask us, the
victims, what we want.