Conflict victims have demanded that a high-level mechanism be set up to create conducive environment for the transitional justice process by bringing all stakeholders, including political parties, security agencies and the victims, on the same page.
Adopting the ‘Conflict Victims’ Charter’ after a two-day ‘National Conference of Conflict Victims on Transitional Justice’ that concluded here today, the victims demanded that a document of common consensus on transitional justice be drafted by the to-be-formed mechanism with the participation and consent of conflict victims, and existing policies and laws be amended or rewritten on the basis of the document.
The victims also demanded that the existing transitional justice mechanisms —Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons — be restructured on the basis of laws rewritten or amended with the consent of victims.
“Conflict victims will not support decisions and processes designed according to the interests and convenience of the state, the then insurgents and the major political parties,” states the charter.
The charter adopted by the victims organised under the Conflict Victims Common Platform states the two commissions have lost their relevance, purpose or utility, given their non-performance over the past four years. It warns the victims will seek ‘alternative recourse to justice’ if the commissions’ tenure was extended under the existing circumstances.
“The commission(s) to be established thereafter must be impartial, independent, empowered and autonomous with the goal of ending impunity and ensuring lasting peace through a transitional justice process that is transparent, gender-sensitive, inclusive and participatory,” states the charter.
In order to create a foundation of trust, the state, the then insurgents and the top political leadership must through public acknowledgement express remorse and tender apologies for human rights violations, and publicly express their commitment to bring the transitional justice process to a meaningful conclusion.
The charter states that the process to be initiated must adopt the core values of transitional justice — truth-seeking, justice and reparation for victims, prosecution and punishment for perpetrators, institutional reform, end to impunity and reconciliation.
“Any process or legislation that for the sake of expediency prioritises amnesty for perpetrators and undermines the principle of punishment for the offender and justice for the victim in the name of political consensus, transitional justice, reparation and reconciliation will be unacceptable to conflict victims.”
The charter stresses that the truth needs to be established in a transparent manner through investigation by an entity that is trusted by the conflict victims in line with the inherent right of conflict victims to know the truth behind grave human rights violations.
As far as reparation is concerned, the charter states a National Reparation Policy should promote self-respect and self-reliance among conflict victims, incorporating their sentiments and including measures in education, health, reservation in employment and social security.
Insisting that reconciliation must happen only with the independent and informed consent of the victims, the charter says the government should promote remembrance, archiving and memorialisation of victims of conflict through a national campaign.
In the case of rape, torture and sexual violence, the charter states the perpetrators should be punished and victims given justice.
The victims also demanded implementation of the CPA clause whereby the government and Maoists had agreed to make public within 60 days information about the persons disappeared or killed. They also demanded that the government immediately take interim measures for the transfer of property from the name of disappeared persons to rightful heirs.
As far as child soldiers and disqualified combatants are concerned, the charter states, “The Government of Nepal is urged to address through special programmes the problems and concerns of combatants of the then rebel force who were discharged by the United Nations Mission to Nepal during verification, citing underage, outside recruitment standards, or late recruitment.”
Other demands put forth by the victims include bringing to transitional justice personnel from security agencies, civil service, teachers and other public employees victimised by the armed conflict.