KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL, THE
KATHMANDU POST, MAR 22, 2011
It seems the political parties have deliberately delayed the endorsement of two important bills of priority registered more than a year ago proposing two transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms: truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) and a commission on enforced disappearances.
Records at the Parliamentary Secretariat show that despite their obvious high priority, the two bills were always put at the bottom of the list of business every time the bill committee of the House sat. Officials said the bill committee has once again put the two draft legislations at the bottom of its priority list and started discussions on the Bank and Financial Institution Act (BAFIA), which was registered a month after the bill on disappearance was registered. The bill on disappearance was registered on
Dec. 4, 2009 and BAFIA on Jan. 3, 2010. “I am not sure whether the bills on TRC and disappearances will get their turn again as they are at the bottom of the list,” said an official at the Secretariat. As the TJ bills continued to get less priority, other bills that were registered later progressed and some of them got endorsed.
Besides BAFIA, the bill committee House completed discussions on the Anti-Tobacco Bill and submitted its report to the House within just four months from the date it was registered (May 20, 2010). The Anti-Tobacco Bill was registered five months after the bill on disappearences was registered and three months after the TRC bill.
Senior officials at the Parliament say political will matters the most in prioritizing bills. “The Peace Minister alone can also bring the bills to the top priority slot and speed up the process as they originated at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction,” said a CA official.
Ministry Secretary Dhurba Prasad Sharma, however, argued that once the draft legislations are submitted to the Parliament Secretariat “they become the property of the House and the ministry has little say”. “Still, we have been requesting the officials at the House to prioritize the bills.” Peace Ministry officials concede that the two bills have been delayed not only because of the protracted caretaker status of the government and frequent disruption of the House but also because of the political nature of the legislations. “The bills related to transitional justice might have been delayed also because it requires larger political consensus to move them forward,” said an official.
Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Barsha Man Pun conceded that the bills were not in priority in the “current list” tabled for discussion at the House committee. “I have requested officials of the House committee and even the Speaker to put the bills in priority so that they are brought into discussion. I hope the bills will be discussed this time around.'
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