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House passes TJRC Bill

NAIROBI, October 24 – Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed a Bill for the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

One of the amendments gives the commission powers to suggest amnesty if victims accept the crimes they are accused of.

The amendments also allow the commission to extend amnesty to economic crime perpetrators if only they accept to pay back.

However there will be no amnesty for gross human rights violations and also the commission cannot give amnesty if the individual has objections.

When legislated, the commission will be allowed to investigate cases from 1963 up to when the National Reconciliation Accord was signed on 28th of February this year.

But all the final decisions on amnesty will be determined by the Attorney General according to the clause in the Bill that reads: “"Where the commission is of the view a recommendation for amnesty should be made with respect to an application, the commission shall submit that recommendation to the AG with respect to the institution of, or continuance with, prosecution of the case being subject of the amnesty application.”

Other amendments included the increase of commissioners from seven to nine with MPs emphasising the need to increase local representation of commissioners which they raised from four to six.

This means there will be three foreign commissioners.

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Justice Minister Martha Karua said gender balance should be considered to include women in the commission.

The president will still be responsible for appointing the chairperson of the commission.

The Bill will now be drafted to include the amendments and then handed over to the AG for redrafting into law.

The TJRC is intended to heal the wounds of post election violence as well as address historical injustices and other issues mentioned in agenda four of the National Dialogue and Reconciliation team.

The Bill was tabled in Parliament by Martha Karua and was a product of the eight-member team that brokered the power deal between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga following the disputed 2007 presidential elections.

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