Transformative Justice (TJ)

Ground breaking ceremony at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi for the Mau Mau Memorial Monument: KHRC was at the  forefront of the reparations case for Kenya’s Freedom Fighters.

The Transformative Justice (TJ) Programme is the embodiment of KHRC’s continued commitment to supporting victims and survivors to seek redress through various platforms while also advocating for structural and institutional reforms towards more responsive and people-centred governance.

Globally, the resurgence of both internal and external armed conflict has occasioned increased focus on the future viability of the human rights discourse. Transitional justice, electoral democracy and terrorism are sub-themes within the broader context of conflict that have are driving contemporary debates on human rights. Should the search for justice be restricted in the interest of advancing peace? Are elections the transformative tools for democratic governance they are touted to be? Is curtailing of civil liberties an inevitable sacrifice that has to be made in confronting terrorism? The interconnected nature of States and societies is driving a re-evaluation and articulation of norms and standards to answer these questions at the domestic, regional and international plains.

In Kenya, the reform agenda that emerged in the aftermath of the 2007-08 Post-Election Violence and saw renewed public optimism for improved public institutions and governance generally; has since given way to receding political will that has seen this agenda stall and undermined in various respects. The 2010 Constitution in particular has faced a sustained onslaught from the political class who seek to fetter its transformative qualities through retrogressive legislation and interpretation. Of immediate concern are divergent debates on amending the Constitution, electoral reforms ahead of the 2017 general elections and shrinking civic space in the face of increased terrorism attacks.

In the face of this operational context, KHRC will continue to undertake initiatives that confront political despotism and safeguard aspirations for government based on human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law. These initiatives will not only focus on the national or domestic plain, but will consolidate and build on TJ’s efforts to influence regional and international discourse on the aspects of transitional justice, constitutionalism, electoral governance and human rights in the face of security threats.

TJ will therefore operate within the following strategic objective: Enhanced human rights-based cultures of constitutionalism, people-driven governance and responsive justice. TJ will within this operational period focus on achieving the following outputs:

·         Unconstitutional decisions and practices exposed and transformative constitutional interpretation advanced: At the national level, KHRC will actively monitor, illuminate and challenge unconstitutional practices by public bodies at all levels with a view to encouraging compliance. Furthermore, KHRC will also analyse emerging jurisprudence and draw inspiration from comparative jurisdictions so as to advance progressive interpretation of the Constitution that moves Kenya towards becoming a human rights State. At the regional and international level, KHRC will facilitate dialogues that seek to advance constitutionalism and constitution-building[1] as key aspects of transition.

·         Flawed electoral system exposed and improvements effected: KHRC will build on its election monitoring work both nationally and regionally to assertively advocate for reforms to electoral systems on the basis of stakeholder audits of the process and the institutions charged with the responsibility to administer these systems. KHRC will utilize its rights-based electoral monitoring framework to undertake a holistic assessment of elections and confront malpractices well ahead of the electoral cycle and follow through to the post-election phase with the dispensing of electoral disputes. This will also entail convening electoral governance partners both nationally and regionally in advocating for the adoption of human rights based approaches to electoral governance. The public and presumed electorate will be engaged in contemporary debates such as how to enhance considerations of leadership and integrity in the eligibility question of contesting elections.

·         Excesses in Security and Counter-terrorism policies confronted to assert a Human Rights State: KHRC will challenge the prevailing narrative that increased limitations to fundamental rights and freedoms are justifiable either in the global fight against terror or in dealing with insecurity generally. At the national level, KHRC will monitor and influence the implementation of security sector reforms through a series of policy initiatives while also facilitating public participation on the same. Furthermore KHRC will seek to expose the State excesses in the midst of security and counter-terrorism operations. At the regional and international level, KHRC will advance discourses on democratized policing and the preservation of civic space and other fundamental freedoms in the face of security threats.

·         Gross Human Rights violations confronted to secure accountability and serve justice: KHRC will seek to enhance the visibility of victims and survivors within the public consciousness and actively seek their redress on multiple platforms at the national, regional and international levels. KHRC will continue to invest in strategic policy discussions that advance the rights of victims while also harnessing the experiences of victim groups that have successfully sought redress from the State. This approach seeks to advance a justice discourse and practice that is more victim-centred and advances key aspects of transition. At the national level, this means taking up Kenya’s unfinished transitional justice agenda as reflected by the unimplemented Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report; the ongoing Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC); and the ongoing debate on land reforms. It will however also entail supporting public interest litigation with regard to emerging violations of human rights. At the regional and regional level, KHRC will actively involve itself in seeking to shape emerging discourses on the future of transitional justice generally and international criminal law specifically.

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