As Nepal’s parliament enters the final discussions on a draft Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) bill, questions remain regarding the relationship between amnesty and reconciliation provisions within the bill. This ICTJ policy briefing explores the implications of these provisions for victims of gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and makes recommendations on ways to strengthen the effectiveness and legitimacy of the commission’s mandate.
The bill proposes the creation of a TRC to investigate instances of gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity that occurred during the course of the 1996–2006 armed conflict. Focusing on truth-seeking, reparation, and reconciliation, the bill includes provisions to promote reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, as well as for the TRC to recommend amnesties to perpetrators of some violations in exchange for full disclosure of such violations.
However, the bill is not explicit in linking these two provisions—both of which have serious implications for victims—nor does the bill require the TRC to seek victim consultation prior to recommending amnesties.
If the provision on recommendations for amnesty remains, this policy briefing suggests the commission should mandate—rather than simply suggest— the provision of victim consultation, and such consultations should weigh heavily in any decision to recommend amnesties. In addition, the TRC should produce guidelines on the circumstances under which amnesty might be recommended to help increase the level of transparency met by the TRC and support consistency in making such impactful decisions as granting amnesties to perpetrators.
The paper further recommends the bill clarify what is meant by the TRC’s task of causing reconciliation “to be made.” Reconciliation is both a personal and social process that may or may not occur over a long period of time and cannot be crystallized into a single, formalized event.
Furthermore, the bill must clearly delineate the ideas of compensation provided through a reconciliation process and the victims’ right to reparations as a form of redress. The TRC should be seen as just one component of the broader process of reconciliation. Uncovering the truth, providing reparations, ensuring criminal accountability of perpetrators, and implementing institutional reforms are all important mechanisms through which a society can achieve healing reconciliation; the TRC is simply one step in what must be a comprehensive process, states ICTJ’s briefing.