NAIROBI, November 28 – President Mwai Kibaki has ignored demands from the civil society and signed into law, the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to probe historical human rights abuses and bring about national cohesion.,
The commission will investigate crimes committed since independence in 1963, to February this year.
“President Mwai Kibaki has signed into law an Act of Parliament to provide for the establishment, powers and functions of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission,” a brief statement from the Presidential Press Service said.
The TJRC aims at bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to justice, promoting national reconciliation and resolving conflict between different groups.
It will also aim at providing compensation or restitution for victims and also serve as a public acknowledgement of the suffering of the victims.
The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed to set up the TJRC.
The commission will focus on the widespread violence that followed the disputed presidential elections late last year that resulted into the death of 1,500 people.
The unrest also saw some 350,000 people displaced internally and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.
The violence was blamed on unresolved historical injustices mainly the distribution of land and state resources, plus alleged human rights violations by previous regimes.
Those found guilty of genocide and other human rights violations by the TJRC will not be eligible for amnesty.
Parliament passed the TJRC Bill last month and handed it to the Attorney General to study, before presenting the document to President Kibaki for assent into law.
A section of the civil society had appealed to the Head of State not to sign the Bill until it was revised claiming that it was ‘seriously’ flawed.
"The TJRC Bill will not achieve its objective as it is fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies that would be used by suspects to frustrate its implementation. Politicians want to use it for cover-up," a statement from Kituo Cha Sheria said.
“If the contradictions in the draft bill are not resolved, the TJRC will fail to contribute to or even undermine the justice which Kenya so badly needs. We should take time to reflect on the Bill and amend it to rectify the flaws rather than passing it into law with undue haste,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.