Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC)The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) are Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) registered in Kenya. We have been are the forefront in advocating for just, accountable, equitable and rights-centered governance in Kenya and the society at large. We deeply believe that pro-citizens transitional justice and reform processes are the key governance frameworks towards the realization of these ideals. We strongly believe that a legitimate and credible Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) is a critical ingredient of these processes especially for societies emerging from repression and armed conflicts.
For many years, both the KHRC and ICPC have spearheaded the campaign for a TJRC that is victims’-centered among others processes. We have done so at three levels: as individual organizations, in partnership (bilaterally) and through the Kenya Transtional Justice Network (KTJN), where both organizations happen to be co-conveners. For the last 18 months, we have spearheaded the campaign to have the credibility and legitimacy crisis facing the TJRC resolved through all the legal and political means possible. As well known to many, the alleged involvement of the Chair of TJRC, that is Ambassador Bethwell Kiplagat, in the illegal and irregular acquisition of public property, Wagalla Massacre and the complicity in the murder of the late Dr. Robert Ouko (the then Minister of Foreign Affairs) are the major bones of contention, notwithstanding the financial, operational and political bottlenecks facing the Commission. We have adequate documentary evidence to link Mr. Kiplagat with these violations.
In a recent documentary interview with the Kenya Television Network’s (KTN) Jicho Pevu series, Kiplagat confirmed that he was indeed in Wajir three days before the Wagalla massacre and quipped that he did not believe that the Government of Kenya was responsible for the massacre. This position comes short of an admission of his involvement and also exonerative of the state’s culpability before the hearings of the Commission.
All the above allegations against Kiplagat have caused massive crises of credibility in the TJRC leading to limited operational and financial support from the Government of Kenya, development partners and civil society organizations. Consequently, two Commissioners have resigned in protest: the Vice-Chair Betty Murungi (on 19th April 2010) and Commissioner Ronald Slye (on 21st October 2010).
In liaison with the KTJN, we have strived to impress upon the Chief Justice to establish a tribunal pursuant to Section 17(2) (a-b) of the TJRC Act through the respective petitions dated 7th and 17th September 2010 and 12th October 2010 without any major success. It is also on record that on 16th April 2010, eight (8) Commissioners petitioned the Chief Justice over the same matter but to no avail. In his response to our petition dated 17th September 2010, the Chief Justice failed in his mandate by referring the matter to the TJRC; an institution supposed to be subject to his administrative actions. Based on this, we have all the reasons to believe and conclude that the current and never-ending crisis within the TJRC is attributable to the Chief Justice for his failure to act in line with the TJRC Act and Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Following Commissioner Ronald Slye’s resignation, he observed that after six months of waiting for the credibility issues around the chairman to be resolved, and in the face of minimal financial and other support from the government, donors and civil society, he expressed little confidence in the Commission’s ability to fulfill its mandate. Based on this, he concluded that: “Even if those issues are addressed, it is by no means certain that the Commission… will be able to fulfill even a small part of its mandate give the limited time and resources available”. This coming from an insider and an expert in international law and transitional justice speaks volumes about the competence, capacity and destiny of the Kenya’s TJRC.