TJRC must respect the rule of law

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BY STEPHEN MUSAU

News going round that the TJRC will start its activities by the next two weeks will be met with extensive resistance for it will be pure entrenchment of acts of impunity and disrespect of the rule of law.
 
The TJRC should be the first organ to respect the rule of law to promote the truth and justice for the country to be on the reconciliatory trajectory. The TJRC knows too well that they have a matter in court with Kenyans Against Impunity (KAI).

This case was filed under the High Court in Nairobi, case No. JR 470 of 2009 and is due for hearing on 21st of January 2010 before the same High Court. Why then should the TJRC do public relation exercises in a matter that is still pending in court?
 
On behalf of Kenyans Against Impunity, we take exemption for TJRC cannot be taken like any other commission of inquiry that entices a few elites and pro-establishment sympathisers.

The TJRC is supposed to look into key human rights violations historically for justice to be done to the victims of these violations with respect for the rule of law, rights of the victims and all values and principles of human rights, democracy and good governance. TJRC should have no iota of mischief or mistrust from the victims.
 
While the establishment of the TJRC has been desirous for the Kenyan nation to achieve its full potential in social, economic and political development and transformation of the values and principles that bide a nation together, Kenyans Against Impunity have had issues with the composition and formation of the TJRC for it was seen as an entrenchment of impunity.
 
We remind the Commission that the same issues KAI has had with the formation and composition of the TJRC have not changed. As KAI we are designing plan of actions to counter any of their moves and await the case hearing on 21st January 2010, and its eventual conclusion.
 
The TJR Act of 2008 vividly states that, “no person shall be qualified for appointment as a commissioner unless such a person… has not in any way been involved, implicated, linked or associated with the perpetrators or supporters of the acts, crimes or conduct under investigations; shall be impartial in the performance of the function of the Commission under this Act and who will generally enjoy the confidence of the people of Kenya”. 
 
The above section of the Act is a key ground we shall rally around for our public engagement actions and activities for the Chairperson, Ambassador Bethwel Kiplagat was a Permanent Secretary twice and an Ambassador in former President Moi’s government, which committed almost 60 percent of the gross violations of human rights which the TJRC is supposed to investigate and address.
 
The Ambassador among other Commissioners were senior government officials and have served during the period under investigation or are close relatives of some persons who served in the government hence will have direct conflicts of interests, compromising the desired objectivity of the TJRC.
 
Those named to the Commission ought to be either witnesses in the TJRC hearings or subjects of investigations for their conduct during the period in focus. As constituted now, the TJRC seems meant to cover up the same truth, justice, peace and reconciliation being sought by Kenyans.
 
The TJRC should therefore be tolerant, wait for the court ruling and the people’s actions on what they desire of the TJRC process.

(Mr Musau is the Executive Coordinator, Release Political Prisoners – RPP)

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