Today, August 30, is marked as the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Accordingly, we are commemorating this day for the victims of enforced disappearances. On this occasion, we commemorate and stand in solidarity with the victims of the enforced disappearance and their families.
The conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Acord, on November 21, 2006, formally ended the armed conflict that lasted from February 13, 1996, to November 21, 2006. Article 5.2.5 of the Comprehensive Peace Accord laid the provisions to set up a High-level Truth and Reconciliation Commission as per the mutual consensus to probe those involved in serious violation of human rights and crime against humanity in course of the armed conflict and create an atmosphere for reconciliation in the society. Similarly, Article 33 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, among other things, provisioned to provide relief to the families of the victims, based on the report of the Investigation Commission constituted to investigate the cases of persons who were the subject of enforced disappearance during the conflict and constitute a High-level Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the facts about those persons involved in serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict, and to create an atmosphere of reconciliation in the society. A similar provision has been incorporated in Article 304 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal.
The Commission has been formed in accordance with the Investigation of Enforced Disappearances, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act, 2014, to undertake several functions such as investigation, seeking the truth, recommendation for reparations, distribution of identity cards, and recommendation for proceeding against the accused. Out of 3243 complaints registered in the Commission so far, 2496 complaints have been currently subject to detailed investigation. The number of disappeared persons is 2532 based on the complaints that have been recorded to date.
After the tenure of the Commission formed for the first time ended in mid-April 2019, the Commission remained without officer-bearers for some time. After new office-bearers of the Commission were appointed on January 20, 2020, the Commission has restarted its work. Commission has been expediting the investigation in a planned manner since its inception
Based on the universal principles of transitional justice, issues raised by the victims in accordance with international humanitarian law, orders of the Honorable Supreme Court of Nepal thereby, and the opinion of the Commission, among other things, the Commission has made recommendations to the Government of Nepal on vital issues that need to be addressed while amending the existing Act.
The Commission has been constantly calling up the government to implement those suggestions. The Commission would like to reiterate its appeal to review the Act related to the Commission by prioritizing the suggestions. To give concrete form to its action plan, the Commission has been consulting with various stakeholders such as victims, representatives of victim-related organizations, and subject-matter experts. The Commission has been continuously working to address the concerns and needs of the victims at the local level, who are far from the mainstream state’s mechanism.
Because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the investigation works to be done at the local level, collective discussions with the victims, and consultation programs have been affected for some time. Despite such an uneven situation, the Commission is undertaking investigations and examination procedures that can be done internally, by adopting health and safety measures. Complaints that are subject to the detailed investigation at the Commission are being continuously investigated. The Commission has distributed identity cards to 693 victims from 247 families during the same period. The Commission is confident in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Commission to the Government of Nepal regarding the services, facilities, discounts, and concessions to be provided to the identity-card holder victims. The Commission has sent a letter to the Government of Nepal through the Liaison Ministry to provide relief of NPR. 1,000,000 /- to the next of kin of the remaining victims, who are still deprived of relief amount despite being recognized as the victim and thereby bearing the identity card.
Commission is undertaking necessary preparations to carry out its Forensic Science- related functions such as DNA tests, exhumation, etc. by forming a Committee of Experts. In addition to this, a policy with standard criteria is being formulated pertinent to the interim relief and reparations. The Commission is proceeding towards fulfilling its legal responsibilities by completing its investigation functions at the earliest.