NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission is expected to begin its public hearings early next year.
TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat said on Thursday that the commission was in the process of recruiting a chief executive officer whose position would be filled in a matter of weeks.
“We have already advertised the position and will soon be interviewing the applicants,” Mr Kiplagat said during a meeting with senior editors in Nairobi.
He said one of the issues the TJRC would focus on included the cause of the poll violence and how to bring restitution to the victims. He emphasised that this would ensure no repetition of the poll chaos.
“If you are driving at night and a car comes behind you and puts on the lights full beam, it will blind you and you will not be able to see in front of you,” he said.
“If the lights are dimmed, it in fact strengthens your own beam and you can see your way even better,” he added.
He further called on those affected by the bloodshed to use the sittings to gain closure.
“If we do not look and allow the past to illuminate then your light will not be as strong as it should be and so this is really the intention,” he stated.
The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission was set up through an Act of Parliament designed to align the mandate of the Commission to international law and standards and to enhance its powers.
A positive aspect of the Act is gender equality which was adhered to during the selection, nomination and appointment of commissioners.
The Act further grants the Commission “all powers necessary for the execution of its functions”, including broad powers of investigation.
It also imposes on “all persons, including members of political parties and officers of the Government”, a duty to co-operate with the Commission and grant it unrestricted access.
The Bill includes provisions to guarantee the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations (sections 48-49). Such provisions are particularly important in the light of the experience of previous judicial and non-judicial commissions of inquiry in Kenya, whose recommendations have not been implemented.
The Bill envisages that the Commission would recommend the creation of institutions “conducive to a stable and fair society” as well as the
institutional, administrative and legislative measures necessary “to prevent the commission of violation of human rights.”
Despite these positive aspects, the commission does not have the power to recommend a “blanket amnesty for past crimes”.
However, “Individual amnesty may be recommended by the Commission in exchange for the full truth, provided that serious international crimes (crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide) are not amnestied, nor persons who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes covered by the Commission.”
As required under international law, the Commission should not recommend amnesties or similar measures of impunity (either conditional or unconditional) with respect to criminal or civil proceedings concerning gross violations of human rights.