24 Feb - 2 Mar 2017 #847

JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED

Jan Møller Hansen

The peace process has now lasted longer than the war. We have wasted the past 11 years mired in a transition about which the only good thing we can say is that we are not killing each other anymore.

Read more:

The real truth about the Truth Commission, Om Astha Rai

Trust and the TRC, Guest editorial Charan Prasai

The Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2006 took a step-by-step approach of demobilising Maoist insurgents, disarming them, integrating some of them into the national army, and holding elections for a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. Along the way, some politicians (we know who, and on instructions from whom) sneaked in secularism, federalism and republicanism. But that is another story. 

The agreement has provisions for transitional justice, including the formation of Commissions for Truth and Reconciliation and on Enforced Disappearances. After years of foot-dragging and after running out of excuses, an Act was finally passed. But it is flimsy, toothless and did not meet international norms. 

The reason for this was evident. The former adversaries are now components of the state. Mortal enemies are, in fact, now partners in the governing coalition. Prime Minister Dahal’s Maoist guerrillas tried to kill the NC’s Sher Bahadur Deuba in a landmine attack in2003, and Deuba announced a ransom for Dahal’s capture dead or alive.

Since leaders on both sides are on the same boat, no one wants to rock it. Maoist, NC, and RPP leaders are all responsible for human rights violations, and therefore do not want to rake up the past. 

The leaders benefit from an apathetic public that wants to let bygones be bygones. Even families of the victims have neither the time nor money to pursue justice. They do not know how to work the system, where to go to seek redress. 

Relatives of the disappeared, victims of torture do not expect the government to ever compensate them or provide justice, so they do not even ask for it. Most families would therefore be happy just to know the truth of what happened to their relatives.

As we report in this issue and as activist Charan Prasai argues in the Guest Editorial it is no surprise that the term of the commissions have been extended by another year.

They were just fig leaves, anyway, and another egregious example of Nepal’s bhagbanda politics. A henchman of Agni Sapkota, the accused in the Arjun Lama disappearance, calls the shots in the TRC. Bal Krishna Dhungel has nothing to fear. Ganga Maya Adhikari withers away in hospital seeking justice. 

The political leadership wants to be seen to be on the side of truth and justice, but wants neither. 

Read also:

Justice under threat, Tufan Neupane

Just Justice, Editorial

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