KNCHR backs Kibaki call for amnesty

October 21, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 21- The state funded human rights body on Tuesday backed President Mwai Kibaki’s call for amnesty for perpetrators of post election violence, but said the financers of the chaos must face the law.

Kenya National Commission on Human Right (KNCHR) Chairperson Florence Jaoko said that there was no contradiction in the President asking for people to forgive each other, since it was a key recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence.

“When you are talking about truth, justice and reconciliation you there must be some level of amnesty and forgiveness,” Mrs Jaoko said and appealed to Kenyans to be open to embrace forgiveness if the reconciliation was to succeed.

“When you are talking about amnesty you are talking about full disclosure.  You are talking about people sitting down and agreeing they forgive each other,” she added.

The KNHCR boss however insisted that a tribunal proposed by the Waki commission must be set up to try the alleged plotters to avoid a recurrence of the violence seen after last year’s election.

In his speech during celebrations to mark the 45th Kenyatta Day, President Kibaki appeared to be moving away from his stance of opposing calls for amnesty and instead proposed that those implicated be pardoned.

The human rights watchdog boss also cautioned against much hype of the sealed letter (containing names of the financiers) that was handed to former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and instead called on Kenyans to ensure the Cabinet and political elite implement the recommendations contained in the report.

“I am not sure that the President talked about who is to be forgiven and it would be wrong for us to start speculating. We are talking about reconciliation from the highest to the lowest level. I don’t think we can say it’s about the big boys being forgiven and the foot soldiers facing justice,” she said.

“The actions that are taken must take in account the history of the Kenyan people, the reality today and the aspiration of the Kenyan people. None of these can be treated in isolation.”

At the same time, the President of the UN Human Rights Council Martin Uhomboibi said the action that Kenyans would finally settle on must take into account the country’s history and future.

“Make haste slowly. Kenya deserves mercy not necessarily justice, although we are not opposed to justice.”

He said: “Africans have been known to have forgiving hearts, Africans have been know to recognise that long term interests of there people must take precedence over short-term calculations in whatever way that represented.”

They were speaking after opening the 9th international conference of human rights institution whose theme is “Improving Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups.


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