UN rights chief backs new Kenya law

June 9, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 9 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has supported the proposed Constitution saying it contains a comprehensive Bill of Rights.

Judge Pillay said on Tuesday that the Bill of Rights in the proposed law was clear on fundamental freedoms especially in the area of non-discrimination and included a strong platform to sustain economic, social and cultural rights.

Addressing a press conference, Judge Pillay said the Bill of Rights in the proposed Constitution was designed as one of the clauses that could not be changed unless through another referendum.

“If the people decide to pass the Constitution, the people will own the Bill of Rights. Once the Constitution is adopted, it needs to permeate the entire legal system as well as the institutions that make the legal system work which includes the police, the prosecutors and all levels of the Judiciary,” she said.

She also expressed concern over what she termed as the shortcomings of the Kenya police especially on extrajudicial killings.

“The police of all people cannot be allowed to get away with serious crimes. I have been informed by the government that it intends to bring in a series of reforms aimed at improving the police performance including improved salaries, a revised training curriculum and a proper authority for police oversight,” Judge Pillay said.

She also called on the government to speed up formation of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the post 2007 election violence.

Judge Pillay says Kenya should not entirely depend on the International Criminal Court to deliver justice for all the victims of the violence since it can only handle a few of the suspects.

She said it was the responsibility of the state to investigate crime and ensure the justice system worked efficiently.

“The ICC prosecutor has already announced a policy where he will prosecute only those most responsible and these may be very few in number. This is why I pointed out that the almost 1, 300 documented cases of serious crimes that occurred during the 2007 conflict may go unaddressed,” she stated.

A Bill on the formation of the special tribunal was shot down twice in Parliament and is expected back in the House for debate.

Judge Pillay called on the government to restructure the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission so as to make it acceptable to all Kenyans.

“I did raise the matter with the President and Prime Minister and they explained that they had adopted a system where Parliament selected the candidates rather than the Executive. The list did go to the Executive and of course the President selected the first name on that list. I got the impression that they will now review the situation because they realised that there is a need to examine the qualifications of people even though they are shortlisted by Parliament,” she said.

“The public would like individuals upon whom they can place their trust and confidence to have the issues dealt impartially,” she stated.


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