, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 23 – Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Farah Maalim has dismissed attempts by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and a section of MPs to disband the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission by amending the law constituting it.
Mr Maalim said the due process of law as stipulated in the TJRC Act should be followed in removing any commissioner(s) and not through Parliament. He said the Judiciary should be allowed to carry out the arbitration role as spelt out in the law through a tribunal.
“We cannot keep changing the law all the time we feel like. This is exactly why we had the kind of dictatorship we had in the Moi regime,” he said.
“We cannot have a parliamentary committee not confining itself to the role it is designed for.”
The Ladgera MP regretted that Parliament’s work ended with the making of the law and recruitment of the Commissioners under the same law. Attempting to disband the Commission, he added, would be interfering with other organs of government.
“And in any case you cannot amend the law and take away the spirit of the law. In my opinion the only thing we could change here is adding more time for the Commission to compensate on the time it has lost,” he said.
Civil society organisations have sustained calls for the resignation of TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat arguing that having served under the former regime when most of the alleged human rights abuses were committed he could be required to be investigated.
Fellow commissioners have also joined the fray calling on Mr Kiplagat to resign. They already requested Chief Justice Evan Gicheru to constitute a tribunal to investigate Mr Kiplagat’s conduct. Vice Chairperson Betty Murungi resigned earlier in the week over the credibility of her Chairman.
Frustrated by the wangles and credibility queries, Mr Kilonzo has recommended to the Parliamentary Legal Committee that a new team be instituted. Reports indicate that the committee which met on Thursday is warming to the idea.
“We are turning into a country where MPs make laws, then halfway through they engage in reverse gear to do what they should have done in the first place outside the law,” said Gwasi MP John Mbadi who had flanked the Deputy Speaker.
Mr Maalim maintained that should the House be used to stamp the mob justice trend going on with the civil society it is likely to allow a culture of impunity where the law is ignored.
“There is no lacuna in the law to be addressed. The law is very clear of what ought to be done,” he said.
“I guess the Chief Justice has failed to constitute a tribunal because there is no sufficient evidence to back claims.”