On 17 March, 2023,Nepal Forum for Restorative Justice organized a sub-national consultation meeting discussing the way forward for transitional justice and reconciliation at Sudurpashchim province. There were various stakeholders presented in the consultation meeting such as conflict victims, social activists, government officials and representatives, media persons, representative from Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), and representatives from CSOs working with and for conflict victims in one way or the other. There were thirty-five participants in the event out of which twelve were men and twenty-three were females.
Objectives of the consultation meeting
- To bring different stakeholders – victims, local and provincial level government bodies and CSOs – together to discuss on ways forward for transitional justice (TJ) and reconciliation.
- To get necessary insights and inputs for the reconciliation framework from the stakeholders.
This sharing echoed the demands that were voiced earlier in the advocacy meeting. To sum up these were:
- Accessible higher education for children of victims without age and number limitation.
- Employment security for victims or their family members
- Declaration of those who lost their lives in the armed conflict as national martyrs
- Identity card for victims and their family members</li> <li>Provision of returning earlier ceased properties
- Categorization of victims and introduction of reparative measures for them accordingly
- Recognition of victims by commemorating them through memorials and naming public places on them
- Victim oriented need based reparative programs
While voicing their demands, victims also expressed that though many says peace process has led to change in country, no change has been observed in the lives of victims. They likewise presented their exhaustion and frustration sharing same thing again and again in multiple platforms yet seeing none of those being taken into consideration and/or acted on.
Once victims presented their concerns, civil society representatives voiced their thoughts based on their experiences working on the issues of victims, justice and peacebuilding. Representative from WOREC stated that there have been cases, where CSO programs lacking confidentiality and security insurance of victims led to harm them more than do any good to them. So, she asked every stakeholder to be mindful of these important details while designing any programs concerning victims. Likewise, representative from FEDO while talking about Dalit conflict victims’ cases highlighted another important issue of intersectionality within the victimization of different group of people and specific needs of already marginalized people within the victims group. Women Rights. Activist Goma Acharya, similarly stated how issues of sexually harassed victims are not heard at all. One important statement from her was “We are not asking money. But we at least want state and involved parties’ intention to work for victims’ justice.” Representative from INSEC also reiterated the importance of designing program’s as per victims’ needs while working for them. The other information that came from CSOs, was scholarship provision for children of victims being introduced in some schools in the province.
After civil society members, Naba Raj Acharya, Under Secretary of CIEDP started his presentation titled “Brief Information on the Commission’s work so far and its future direction”. The presentation gave a comprehensive outlook on what has been done so far by the commission, what is yet to be done and what shall be done to complete the commenced work and provide sense of justice to the victims. His presentation also focused on how local and provincial government bodies can work together with the commission for achieving the goal of delivering justice to victims and achieving reconciliation in the community at large. Some of the information highlighted in the presentation are as follows:
- On the basis of petition registered in the Commission 2558 people have been disappeared during the armed conflict.
- 1321 of the families of disappeared persons and 3993 of individual have been provided with victim identity card out of which 187 and 467 are from Sudurpashchim province respectively.
- 11 recommendations have been submitted to the Government of Nepal on 2077/12/06 regarding the services, facilities and concessions to be provided to the people who have received identity cards from the commission. These recommendations included reparative provisions like scholarship to children of victims, employment to victims or family members of victims, etc.
- 93 of 550 families recommended by Commission have received ten lakh rupees as relief amount from the government of Nepal
- The commission has sent correspondence to the district administration office, district coordination committee office and local levels regarding support to the victims’ families in all affected 75 districts.
- As per commission’s order, information has been requested from the Police Headquarters, Nepal Army Military Base, Armed Police Force Nepal Headquarters and the office of Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) to send information as far as available regarding the incidents and the victims.
- A draft of the procedure recommending the reparation for disappeared persons has been prepared and sent to the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Chief Minister’s Office of all 7 provinces for feedback.
- The details of the missing persons sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for the purpose of preparing the procedure for providing funds for life pension for the families of those who sacrificed in the political movement
Besides the above mentioned, highlights on Commission work, Mr. Acharya also listed down recommendation for local and provincial government. Most of the listed recommendations were aligned with the demands of victims. However, one specific recommendation that was not presented before in the event but was included in his presentation was that of opening legal resources to victims by judicially declaring death of disappeared persons. The other was that of designing and implementing victim-oriented programs with the participation of victims themselves.