KATHMANDU, March 29: Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of lawyers across the country, has decided on positive intervention in the drafting of bills related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Disappearance Commission.
An NBA executive committee meeting held in Gorkha on Saturday decided to seek involvement in the issue institutionally and positively to make sure that the two bills would be victim-oriented and the commissions formed accordingly.
"NBA has passed its strategies regarding these issues; it is of the firm view that the government should strictly follow the order of the Supreme Court in this regard and that the commissions should meet international standards," said Sunil Kumar Pokharel, general secretary of NBA.
"When the government had tried to bring in an ordinance in the past without consulting the victims, the Supreme Court rejected it, stating that any blanket amnesty in serious cases of human rights violation was unacceptable," he added. "If the government again fails to draft the bills from a victim-centric point of view, NBA could file litigation or institutionally support the victims in their individual cases."
The government has been preparing to table the bills in parliament. However, a taskforce it formed to prepare the bills has already courted controversy as the victims protested against the inclusion in the taskforce of ex-SSP Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, who faces allegations of human rights violation during the conflict period.
Meanwhile, the NBA executive committee meeting has decided to host a three-day Special Constitutional Conference in Kathmandu from May 29 to 31 to assist as well as pressure the Constituent Assembly (CA) and the political parties to draft a new constitution within a year. NBA has decided to hold the special conference with the participation of legal practitioners, constitutional experts and political representatives.
"The event scheduled to mark Republic Day would discuss the thorny and contentious issues in constitution-drafting that had remained unsettle in the previous CA," said Pokharel.
"We will discuss such issues during the conference, forming thematic groups for the purpose. If any consensus is reached, that would help the CA in constitution-drafting. If the issues remain unsettled, NBA would take them up for further discussions," he added.
Likewise, the NBA meeting has decided to pitch for reforming the judiciary while drafting the new constitution. "Questions were raised about growing corruption in our judiciary during the recent meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva. Reports of Transparency International also highlighted the issue. Given this scenario, the leadership at the judiciary should take steps for reform," said Pokharel.
He said that NBA would lobby for reform in the structure of the judiciary as well as in its policies along with an agenda of behavioral reform among judicial staff. "We´ll discuss these ideas to shape the structure of the judiciary in the new constitution. We´ll discuss whether the current provisions for appointing justices and judges should be changed," he added.
The meeting has also urged the government and other authorities concerned to appoint the chief justice and the other justices sooner rather than later. "More than 17,000 cases remain unsettled at the Supreme Court. The authorities should realize the urgency of judicial appointments," said General Secretary Pokharel.
Citing that judges are assigned on deputation at courts at all levels, NBA has urged an end to the ad-hoc posting of judges.