, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19 – A Bill seeking to repeal the Indemnity Act and open a window for the compensation of victims of injustice by the armed forces has been published.
The author of the Bill, Nominated MP Mohammed Affey on Friday asked the Speaker of the National Assembly to grant it priority when it comes before the House.
Dr Affey explained; “We want to request the Speaker as the Chair of the House Business Committee to fastrack this and make it possible for this Bill to be repealed as soon as possible so that Kenyans in these areas then can go before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), and say exactly what happened to them.”
The Commission has in the last one month been going round the country to create awareness on it mandate.
The Act has emerged as one of the most contentious issues touching on the work of the TJRC. Victims and various civil society organisations have voiced concern that the Act undermines the TJRC\’s work.
Their argument is that the Act prevents the TJRC from inquiring into human rights violations and crimes committed between 1963 and 1967 during the secessionist Shifta War in northern Kenya.
The second claim is that unless the Act is repealed, any attempt by the TJRC to venture into the affected areas would be inconsequential. The concern raised by many is that the existence of the law purports to exclude accountability for crimes thereby fostering impunity for those affected by the State crackdown on Shifta bandits.
The purpose of the Indemnity Act was meant to shield from civil or criminal liability public officials and members of the armed forces implicated in human rights violations in the course of security operations in North-Eastern Province, as well as Marsabit, Isiolo, Lamu and Tana River districts.
At the same time Dujis MP and Livestock Assistant Minister Aden Duale called on the TJRC to hold off their sittings planned for the region until Parliament debates the Bill.
“We are just saying to Mr Kiplagat that we don’t have a problem with the Commission or with you being at the helm of the Commission. All we are asking is that you give a month until the House has repealed this law then you and your Commission can come to our regions and hear from the firsthand victims what they went through during these years that were protected by the Act,” Mr Duale pleaded.
However the TJRC has always insisted that the Indemnity Act does not and will not affect its ability to fulfill its mandate of investigating all violations of human rights committed throughout Kenya.