, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – The government has now initiated the process of disbanding the troubled Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).
Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo, under whose docket the TJRC falls, said on Wednesday that he had asked the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs to work on modalities of disbanding the Commission.
“I have actually requested the Parliamentary Committee to consider and recommend methods by which we can disband them so that they can go home. We have enough Kenyans who can do TJRC work, don’t you think so?” he asked.
He said the entire Commission had failed to carry out its mandate of addressing long term issues stipulated in Agenda Four of the mediation talks, making the Commissioners irrelevant.
He said: “The entire country has forgotten what TJRC is about. I want to plead with these commissioners, to save the country from this heartache, if they feel they are unable to cope with this, for all of them to resign and then we can start a process of appointing new commissioners for the TJRC.”
The Minister said it was unfortunate that all the commissioners were still enjoying benefits yet they were not progressing with their work.
“Even the Vice Chair, to my utter amazement, resigned but she wants to continue being a commissioner… it’s weird!” he said.
The Minister expressed displeasure with the Commission for writing a letter to his office asking him to form a tribunal of inquiry into allegations against TJRC Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat.
He said that he has returned the letter because “the government cannot afford to make a mistake to own TJRC and my disappointment is that the commissioners do not have the understanding of that very important legal principle that the government must keep off.”
He said his office was not charged with the role of forming such a tribunal.
He further dismissed the commissioners’ letter saying their request to form the tribunal was unjustified since Mr Kiplagat’s performance or conduct was not in question: “A tribunal can only be appointed for investigating misbehavior or misconduct. They are suggesting that it be formed to investigate land, Wagalla massacre and the Ouko murder which happened a long time ago.”
“I have therefore returned the letter saying there is no legal foundation for me to get involved in anything of the sort.”
According to the Minister, the Commission should follow proper procedure which requires the commissioners to compile complaints it has against Mr Kiplagat and ask a citizen (who is a non-commissioner) to file a petition with the Chief Justice for the establishment of a tribunal.
But he said the petition should also provide evidence on allegations leveled against him.
The second option is for the Commission to ask Parliament to reinstate the selection panel so that it can explain what went wrong during the vetting process.
Mr Kilonzo said the panel can also answer how Mr Kiplagat became the candidate of choice despite the allegations against him or why those allegations were not raised at the selection panel.
Civil Society Blamed
He also lashed out at sections of the civil society whom he accused of having vested interests in the commission: “TJRC should not be tampered with by people with other agenda.”
The Minister noted that the civil society was represented in the selection panel and argued that they should have raised the allegations against Mr Kiplagat at that time.
He also said he had not received complaints from Kenyans and urged the selection panel to backtrack on the appointment process and find out where they went wrong.
On Tuesday, Mr Kiplagat said he was ready to face the tribunal or a court to defend himself but insisted he would not resign until the law asked him to do so.