Forget The Hague or local tribunal, focus on TJRC

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The government’s apparent reluctance and the emerging refusal by MPs to pass a Bill establishing a local tribunal to try perpetrators of post-election violence may not be a bad thing after all.

In the past few days, as debate raged over whether we need to send the culprits to The Hague, there was finally mention (to my delight) of the role the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) could play in healing this nation.

I have said time and again that there is little public debate among the political class and the populace about the TJRC, whose formation has so far been shrouded with secrecy.

I now anticipate that the goings on of the past week will bring the formation of the TJRC – and the decisive role it will play as we head to 2012 – to the fore.

I have been persuaded that the formation of a local tribunal to try the perpetrators of the post-election violence would run counter to the TJRC and it is a wise idea to drop the plan.  I have been swayed after listening to the South African experience.

When the South African Truth Commission was formed, it had three pillars;

1) The Human Rights Violations Committee – its mandate was to conduct public hearings where victims gave evidence on violations they suffered.

2) Amnesty Committee
– This would grant amnesty on the basic criteria of full disclosure

3) Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee – This was to develop a reparation policy and stipulate how to implement it.

It has been argued before that the 2007-post poll crisis was not merely about a stolen election. 

A special tribunal will only deal with the post-poll violence.  What happens to the other underlying issues?

The TJRC Act provides for investigation into past abuses between December 12, 1963 and February 28, 2008.

Under this commission, we expect not just to deal with the aftermath of the election fallout, but injustices relating to land and other abuses perpetuated under the Kenyatta and Moi regimes. Is there a better way of dealing with what ails Kenya than through the TJRC?
I dare say no!

The process of appointing the TJRC commissioners has passed Parliament and now awaits appointment by the President. It is time this process got underway so that Kenyans can buy into it. 

The earlier, the better.

(This week, blogs on this website will focus on the dilemma Kenya finds itself in as we haggle over whether we need The Hague, a local Tribunal or the TJRC to avoid a repeat of the turmoil we saw last year)

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