Cases backlog leaves NHRC confused
Newly appointed commissioners at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are scrambling to settle a backlog of some 8,700 cases.
Considering the growing number of cases and their nature, the commissioners are busy arranging them according to priority.
"We need to first arrange the cases according to similarity of nature and priority so that they can be resolved quickly," said Gauri Pradhan, one of the commissioners.
Another commissioner, who requested to remain unnamed, said they feel they are in a quagmire and are trying to figure out where to start. "We feel that NHRC has a stash of problems, ranging from administrative to legal," he said.
NHRC has settled 1,350 cases and issued recommendations on 149 since it was established in 2000. However, the rate of implementation of the recommendations is quite dismal.
The government has acted upon only 53 of the total number of recommendations made by the Commission.
Among the body of cases, the Commission is now concentrating its attention on those concerning exhumation of the bodies of those killed during the decade-long armed conflict.
The Commission has received complaints concerning the exhumation of seven bodies - two by the Maoists and five by security forces.
Yagya Raj Adhikari, coordinator of the Protection Division at the Commission, said, "We are now collecting similar cases from our regional offices across the country. Once we have all the complaints concerning exhumation of the dead, we will go into action."
He, however, refused to give details of such exhumation-related cases for security reasons and said the Commission is looking for exhumation experts. "The European Union has assured us it will provide exhumation experts. And the process of receiving this assistance will see movement soon," he said.
Commission to introduce new strategic plan
Commissioner Pradhan said the Commission is planning to introduce a new strategic plan for the next two years. "Since the previous strategy plan comes to an end in 2008, we are now working to introduce a strategy plan for 2008 to 2010," he said.
He said the new strategic plan will include Commission activities on socio-economic issues. "We will aggressively introduce policies to address the issues of Dalits, indigenous people, women and other deprived communities with a focus on inclusiveness," he said.
Another ambitious plan the NHRC wants to unfold is on collaboration with all the commissions, such as the Dalit Commission and the Women's Commission among others.
Lack of new law another obstacle
Commissioner Pradhan said the Interim Constitution-2007 has included NHRC as a constitutional body. However, it is still functioning under the 1997 Human Rights Act. "We need a separate law now that the Commission has become a constitutional body," he said.
He also said NHRC has already formulated a draft bill and forwarded it to the government for endorsement through the winter session of the Interim Parliament.
BY GHANASHYAM OJHA @ kathmandupost