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TJRC report key to Kenya’s transitional justice

Written by ICJ Kenya on .

The TJRC commissioners left General Rtd Ahmed Farah Presiding Chair Tecla Namachanja Wanjala Margaret Shava and Ambassador Berhanu Dinka in Busia County during the public hearings

The Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission was  to release its final report on Thursday, May 2nd 2013, however, the Office of the President said they could not receive the report on behalf of the President who is on an official visit to the United kingdom.

The report of the Commission which was established in 2008 will cover investigations on the gross human rights violations and other historical injustices in Kenya between 12 December 1963 and 28 February 2008 when the National Accord was signed. Further, the report will summarize the findings of the commission and make recommendations on the measures to be taken.

The mandate of the Commission is spelt out in the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission Act No. 6 of 2008 and it includes the investigation of all of the violations on the gross human rights violations and other historical injustices in Kenya between 12 December 1963 and 28 February 2008; identification of the individuals, public institutions, bodies, organizations, public office holders, the State, state actors, or persons purporting to have acted on behalf of any public body responsible for or involved in the violations and abuses; identification and specification of the victims of the violations and abuses and making of appropriate recommendations for redress, including reparations; creation of a historical record of violations of human rights abuses; identification and recommendation of the prosecution of any person responsible or involved in serious violations of human rights, including socio-economic rights and to make recommendations for systemic and institutional reform to ensure that such violations do not occur in the future.

One of the objectives of the TJRC under the Act is to promote peace, justice, national unity, healing, and reconciliation among the people of Kenya through – providing victims, perpetrators, and the general public with a platform for non-retributive truth telling that charts a new moral vision and seeks to create a value based society for all Kenyans.

In addition, it should seek to provide victims and perpetrators with a platform to be heard; restore their dignity and confess their actions as a way of bringing reconciliation.

To fulfil its mandate, the commission went round the country collecting data and collating findings of injustices in the country through public hearings and in-camera sessions.  

International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) terms the report as one of the agenda item issues that should propose solutions to long term and underlying historical injustices that make reconciliation a challenge in Kenya.

 In a stakeholder meeting held on the 30th April 2013, under the theme of, “Kenya’s Transitional Justice Agenda: beyond the TJRC process,” it was noted that the TJRC is an important player in this dispensation and in furthering Kenya’s transitional agenda.

Further, it was emphasized that there was need to implement the transitional agenda citing that countries that have failed to implement have continued to experience cyclical violence, instability and continued impunity.

Moreover, it was underscored, that the TJRC together with other commissions such as the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the National Land Commission (NLC) had a constitutional and statutory duty to promote constitutionalism, protect the sovereignty of the people and secure the observance by all State organs of democratic values and principles as per Article 249 of the Constitution.

The recommendations of the long overdue report which was originally scheduled for release on August 4, 2012, are eagerly awaited for by Kenyans, Africans and other people of the world. This is particularly so given the different challenges countries e.g. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka among others, have had in implementing the reports of their truth commissions.

The TJRC whose mandate expires in early May 2013, asked for a 9 month extension of its term last year citing financial and leadership wrangles. The extension which was granted by Parliament allowed it to finish pending work — making reparations, healings, reconciliation, which is continuing, and compiling the final report.

Immediately President Uhuru is presented the report, he is bound by law to publish it, make copies, and circulate them through at least three local newspapers and within 21 days; the report shall be tabled in Parliament.

Observers will be following keenly the steps and mechanisms the Government, being the first established under the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 will put in place to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the TJRC.

Likewise, the aggrieved victims of human rights abuse and historical injustices, whose views were taken by the TJRC, will be reviewing the report to establish whether the TJRC discharged its mandate, and the report lives up to their expectations of truth, justice and reconciliation.

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