NAIROBI, August 19 – There was heated debate at the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence (CIPEV) on Tuesday when a state-run rights group presented a report on the chaos but failed to name the alleged perpetrators.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) Chairperson Florence Jaoko tabled a 200-page report which documented atrocities allegedly committed by some Cabinet Ministers, politicians, church leaders and senior police officers before and after the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in December 2007.
The report was only made available to CIPEV Commissioners, following an order by its Chairman Justice Philip Waki that the raw report be embargoed for further scrutiny.
Citing rules and procedures of the commission, Justice Waki said names of those implicated in the report would not be made public before they are served with adverse notices.
“If any other copy of this report has been supplied to any one else, we place an embargo against further dissemination of that report,” he ruled.
The ruling ignited debate from lawyers Mbuthi Gathenji and Ahmednassir Abdulahi who termed it unlawful.
Abdulahi, who represents the National Security Intelligence Services (NSIS), argued that branding the report “a confidential document” was an affront to the statute governing the KNCHR, which is answerable to the public.
He wondered why the state-funded KNCHR had not released the report on post election violence to the public which holds it accountable yet it had released all previous reports.
“I don’t think we should have such a blanket order that stops the parties to address the issues the witness is raising because this is a tax payers’ body. We also want to know why the report was not released to the public in the first place,” Abdulahi posed.
Gathenji, who is representing a section of post-election violence victims, on his part questioned the rationale of the law used to shield the report yet part of it (report) had been released.
“My Lords, the public is entitled to know what is in the report. They (public) already know some of the names published in the newspapers, why should this report be kept secret yet there are other reports out there released to the press?” he posed.
Justice Waki clarified that his order only applied to a report dated August 15, which was produced at the Inquiry.
“We are only concerned with this particular report tabled before us. Any other report out there is none of our business because it has not been brought to our attention,” Justice Waki ruled.
In her presentation, the KNCHR Chairperson said her team had documented evidence on a number of political, business and church leaders suspected to have organised the countrywide violence that claimed a reported 1500 people and displaced some 350,000 others.
She said the report was compiled after a series of interviews with over 1000 respondents from various parts of the country.
“The report we are presenting to this commission includes names of the alleged perpetrators. We talked to respondents who implicated a number of them,” she said.
Jaoko said the Commission plans to write to the Attorney General, calling for further investigations on those named.
“It is upon the AG to order for further investigations and institute legal proceedings against the suspects,” she said.
Jaoko urged the Commission to recommend the formation of special courts at places worst hit by the violence to expedite prosecutions.
Other recommendations in the damning report include the formation of an independent body to probe atrocities allegedly committed by security agents who were deployed to quell the violence.
“Some of the police officers were accomplices in this matter and can not be left to investigate themselves,” she submitted.
The report accused some unnamed police officers of having demanded bribes from victims of violence in exchange for protection.
Most of such cases, she said, were reported in Nairobi’s Dandora estate.