Lawmakers mull disbanding battered TJRC

October 26, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission now faces imminent disbandment after a parliamentary committee declared it was ‘tired’ of its woes.

The departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs expressed frustration with the never ending hurdles of the critical commission.

The Commission had asked to meet the MPs committee to enlist support to end its credibility and financial anguish, but the lawmakers threw back the ball to the TJRC saying it had a self inflicted problems.

“You seem to know what the problem is. Help us help you. Come to us and tell us how we should help you,” said Gachoka MP Mutava Musyimi.

“If we go on like this it is obvious we will not achieve the mandate of the Commission. We will be cheating ourselves,” said Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed.

TJRC Secretary Patricia Nyaundi kicked up the storm when she admitted to the committee that some unnamed donors had told the Commission they would not finance it unless the credibility issues surrounding Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat were sorted out.

“You were here eight months ago and you told us the same problems. Really the major problem you are having is not about money but that of credibility,” said Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo.

“We need to move forward and help this Commission move whichever way.”

Although some committee members had proposed the disbandment of the entire Commission since it was evident it will not achieve its mandate, the idea failed to materialise due to some legal implications.

The legislators agreed that a way forward had to be charted to ensure credibility to the justice and reconciliation process.

“We have to come up with a solution based on justice, fairness and what is best for this country,” said committee Chairman Ababu Namwamba.

TJRC Commissioner Gertrude Chawatama from Zambia pleaded with the committee to reconsider a possible disbandment.

“I have left my work and possible prospects of promotion (back home) and I would not feel satisfied if I leave without having achieved the mandate of the commission,” she said.

Mr Kiplagat had earlier on presented to the Committee the work the Commission had so far undertaken, saying it had made strides by holding national forums and was currently taking statements.

The MPs will meet soon to make a final decision.

The Commission, which has been battling with credibility questions surrounding Mr Kiplagat, is also suffering a funding crisis that has threatened to halt its operations.

The credibility woes worsened last week with the resignation of American commissioner Prof Ron Slye who pointed an accusing finger at the government, saying it had failed to support the commission. TJRC Vice Chairperson Betty Murungi resigned in April.

In the same month, other Commissioners wrote to Evan Gicheru asking him to set up a Tribunal to investigate the conduct of Mr Kiplagat but the Chief Justice is yet to respond to the request.

“If the Tribunal way has not succeeded we do have other solutions we have discussed at length. The issue now is to agree within the committee,” said Nominated MP Amina Abdalla (indicating a possible disbandment).

Mr Kiplagat defended his stand to remain in office despite his credibility being at stake saying he was ready to be removed, but justly.

“I was part of the decision that asked the Chief Justice to constitute a Tribunal. All I have insisted is that justice is delivered,” he said.

The Commission is expected to finalise its work and hand over its report by November next year.


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