Incident Reports

Conflict victims reject revisions to TJ law



-Conflict victims and human rights defenders on Tuesday raised serious objections to the proposed amendments to existing Transitional Justice (TJ) law, mainly over concessions in penalties to convicted perpetrators of war era crimes. Their other objection is the draft lacks the provisions to make two TJ bodies accountable. They said providing concessions to the perpetrators such as sparring them jail terms is just not acceptable to them. Representatives of the Conflict Victims Common Platform (CVCP) and human rights activists say the draft seems guided by the intention to conclude the TJ process by giving symbolic punishment even to perpetrators convicted of heinous crimes. At an event organized by the CVCP in collaboration with the International Centre for Justice and Justice and Rights Institute Nepal in the Capital on Tuesday, activists urged the government to revise the draft and make it victim centric. They said the existing draft ‘favours’ the perpetrators. They also back including the provisions to make the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons accountable. The two commissions despite spending more than three years have not completed detail investigation of even one case so far. CVCP Chairperson Bhagi Ram Chaudhary said the punishment recommended is unacceptable since it is just ‘symbolic’. “Though the draft lacks word amnesty, the proposed provisions ultimately are guided towards providing the amnesty,” he said at the event. “We want full revision in the draft after meaningful consultations with the victims.” The draft proposes that if any person co-operates during investigation and reveals facts, he would be considered for reduction in punishment. In such cases, they would be fined up to Rs 500,000, not allowed to be appointed in any position of profit for three years and would have to do community service for three years under the TJ provisions. Other perpetrators would get concession on prison terms; 75 percent if they accept their crimes, regret and beg pardon for what they have done, have to provide reparation amount to the victims as fixed by Special Court and give honest commitment of not repeating it in the future. Such perpetrators would be kept in the open prison the government is mulling to establish. Even those who do not cooperate during investigation could concessions in penalties. Regarding army personnel, the Special Court would include in its verdict the period of prison term served by an army man convicted by the Army Court. Further, the Special Court’s decision could be challenged in the apex court. ICTJ Reparative Justice Programme Director Ruben Carranza said the draft has many conflicting and ambiguous provisions that need corrections. He pointed out that there are several flaws in the draft bill though it has some good provisions as well.