Kenya rights body rocked by crisis

September 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Embattled Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) chairperson Florence Jaoko has vigorously dismissed a vote of no-confidence against her by other commissioners and insisted that she is fully in charge.

Ms Jaoko said she was not aware of any complaint against her leadership style and vowed to continue working as the boss of the State-run human rights body.

She pointed out that only a tribunal set up by the Chief Justice that can force her to vacate office.

“These commissions are set up by law. They are not set up by us as commissioners since there are processes that are to be followed,” she said. “The strengths of public institutions are in them following the legal processes that are there,” she said.

Ms Jaoko emphasised that she was not in conflict with any KNCHR commissioner.

“There has been no vote of no-confidence and as you all know if there is a vote of no confidence, then it should be clearly shown in minutes of the commission,” she said.

“I am not aware of such a resolution that has occurred and of course there are procedures of removing a chairperson or a commissioner from a commission,” she added.

Seven of the eight commissioners are said to have passed a vote of no-confidence in the chairperson.

The other commissioners held a closed-door meeting to discuss the development and were due to release a comprehensive statement on Wednesday. 

It was understood that the anti-Jaoko lobby argued that they were not removing her as a commissioner but as chairperson and therefore the provision for a tribunal did not arise.

 “The commission has been meeting in the last couple of minutes and tomorrow we will be making a comprehensive statement on all the issues that have been under discussion,” Lawrence Mute, told journalists later.

The leadership row started in May when the commissioners asked Ms Jaoko to step down, saying they were dissatisfied with her leadership.

They said the commission\’s profile had fallen since former chairman Maina Kiai left and it needed urgent intervention to rebuild the image.

Ms Jaoko however argued that she had not been treated fairly by the commissioners and would not resign.

The commission is an independent national human rights institution whose core mandate is to protect and promote basic rights in Kenya.

The commissioners include Ms Jaoko, Hassan Omar, Wambui Kimathi, Winfred Lichuma, Samuel Tororei, Fatuma Ibrahim, Mr Mute, Fatuma Dullo, Anne Ngugi and Mohamed Hallo.

Divisions came to the fore early in the year when it emerged that there was leakage of vital witness protection information to politicians.

Prior to this, there had been claims of rivalry between Ms Jaoko and her then deputy, Mr Omar, who was accused of hogging the limelight at the expense of the chairperson.

Some commissioners, led by Ms Jaoko, were pushing for disciplinary measures against Mr Omar for being vocal and issuing statements to the media without the chairperson’s knowledge but the move was pre-empted when Mr Omar resigned as the deputy chairman.


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