, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – Parliament on Wednesday passed a Bill that seeks to revoke a law that grants blanket immunity to security forces and other government agencies that may have committed human rights violations in North Eastern Province.
The Indemnity Act was legislated in 1972 to cushion security forces who participated against the secessionist Shifta War in Northern Kenya between 1963 and 1967.
But Nominated MP Mohammed Affey sponsored the Indemnity (Repeal) Bill in order to enable those affected during the war and the Wagalla massacre of 1984 to participate in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation process.
The Wagalla Massacre was a mass execution of Kenyan Somalis by security forces on February 10, 1984 in Wajir District.
Mr Affey had argued that technically, the Act bars residents of these regions from testifying before the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission about the separatist war and subsequent security campaigns where crimes were committed by Government forces.
The law also accords blanket immunity for security forces serving in the operations areas even today.
The affected communities are those resident in Marsabit, Tana River, Lamu and the entire North Eastern Province.
MPs who passed the Bill without amendment praised the move, saying it would help the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission conduct its work.
The Bill now awaits Presidential Assent.
The Indemnity Act has emerged as one of the most contentious issues touching on the work of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Victims and various civil society organisations have voiced concern that the Act undermines the TJRC\’s work.
But the Commission has stated that the Indemnity Act would not affect its ability to fulfill its mandate.
The Commission claims that the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Act of 2008, as amended, clearly required that the TJRC look at all violations of human rights that occurred between 12 December 1963 and 28 February 2008.
Meanwhile, the House was forced to adjourn the morning session early due to lack of quorum forcing a Motion brought by Marakwet West MP Boaz Kaino which wants the government to set up smallholder irrigation schemes of at least 2,000 acres in all constituencies where applicable as to facilitate food crop production to be deferred.