The Path To Reconciliation
Following his inauguration in December 2002, President Mwai Kibaki initiated discussions about the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at addressing past human rights abuses in Kenya. Shortly afterwards, in April 2003, President Kibaki appointed a task force to begin this process. In August 2003, the task force recommended that a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) be established.
After the violence and political unrest that threatened to destabilize Kenya in the aftermath of its contested 2007 presidential elections, a round of negotiations began in late January 2008, known as the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation. Involved in those negotiations were Kenyan Government leaders, former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, the United States, and other members of the international community. Those involved strongly supported the concept of the TJRC and urged its creation as a powerful tool for reconciliation.
Creating the Commission
In July 2009, in an unprecedented step intended to ensure maximum transparency and legitimacy, the members of the TJRC were selected entirely by civil society and faith-based organizations. These selections were approved by President Kibaki who recently named the nine Commissioners:
- Chairman: Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat – peace worker, diplomat and civil servant
- Vice Chairperson: Betty Murungi – Harvard-trained human rights lawyer
- Tom Ojienda
- Margaret Wambui Shava
- Tecla Namachanja
- Major General (Rtd) Ahmed Sheikh Farah
- International Experts:
- Gertrude Chawatama from Zambia
- Berhanu Dinka from Ethiopia
- Professor Ronald Slye from the United States who served as a legal consultant on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1996-2000
Protecting Human Rights
- The Commission has been given a two-year mandate to identify the root causes of the human rights violations committed by the state, groups, or individuals from the year of Kenya’s independence in 1963 up to 2008. It has been charged with naming individuals involved and making recommendations for prosecution.
- The Commission will have the power to investigate violations such as politically-motivated violence, assassinations, community displacements, settlements, and evictions.
- The Commission will also inquire into major economic crimes, in particular grand corruption, historical land injustices, and the illegal or irregular acquisition of land, especially as these relate to conflict or violence.