, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3 – Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo maintains that the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) is not a judicial mechanism to deal with the post election violence.
Speaking after the swearing in of the nine TJRC commissioners on Monday Mr Kilonzo said the Commission should not be used to whitewash the crimes and deny those afflicted justice. He said that the main mandate of the TJRC is reconciliation and so the place to try the perpetrators of the violence was either in a local tribunal or the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.
“The law regarding the TJRC states clearly that this is not a criminal justice system but a mechanism to unite people,” he said. “Do not allow politicians to mislead you.”
Last Thursday the Cabinet rejected Mr Kilonzo’s proposals to create a special tribunal of international standards for masterminds of the violence and opted to use the TJRC and the local courts to deal with the violence. However the Minister remained adamant that the local courts could not try the suspects owing to the limitations of the law.
“These two cannot prosecute international crimes since when we domesticated the International Crimes Act we set the operationalisation date to January this year meaning that those crimes that took place before that cannot be tried under this law,” he said.
The Minister welcomed reports that the ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo had contacted two commissioners of the Waki Commission that investigated the violence to assist in assessing the Kenyan case.
“I have a very keen interest whether crimes against humanity were committed and if it did happen I would prefer arrests by December this year,” he said.
In rejecting the tribunal the Cabinet resolved that the Commission would be expanded to be more representative and the TJRC Act amended to serve the broader mandate. The Minister said he was yet to embark on the amendments as proposed by the Cabinet to cater for the trials. He however said that any proposals he would make must meet international standards.
“I am very firm about the rule of law and human rights for this country. I may go back to the Cabinet and again they may refuse them because they will not be proposals to please the political class but ones for the greater good of the country,” he said.
The Justice Minister – a strong proponent of a local tribunal – said he was disappointed by the Cabinet’s rejection of the tribunal Bill.
“The decision appears only to be addressing the suspects and forgot that we have victims. The tribunal we were proposing had provisions for compensation to the victims,” he said.
The TJRC was appointed last month to address historical injustices stemming from independence to February last year when the violence broke out.