, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – The civil society has renewed pressure on Chief Justice Evans Gicheru to respond to an application seeking to have a tribunal formed to investigate Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Chairman Bethuel Kiplagat.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) together with the International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) on Monday blamed the CJ for the woes facing the truth commission arguing that his inaction was a violation of the Constitution, which calls for the promotion of integrity at all levels.
A Senior Programme Officer at KHRC Tom Kagwe further accused Justice Gicheru of abdicating his duties saying he should resign.
“We have strived to impress upon the CJ to act through petitions dated September 7, 17 and October 12, this year but we were not successful. In fact on April 16 this year, eight TJRC commissioners petitioned the CJ over the matter to no avail,” he said.
He further took issue with the CJ’s response to an application made in September 17 this year where it is alleged that he passed the buck to the truth commission itself.
“The CJ failed in his mandate by referring the matter to the TJRC which is ridiculous. This commission is supposed to be under his watch so when he refers the matter back to the TJRC he has failed,” explained Mr Kagwe.
The civil societies also reiterated their call for the resignation of the TJRC Chairman and the disbandment of the commission saying it would pave way for a fresh start.
“It is like the hyena story. The more we say it, I hope, the more it sinks in because we have not seen a culture where people implicated in corruption scandals and other human rights’ abuses resign immediately. There must be pressure in this country,” said Mr Kagwe.
He also asked the government to continue withholding its financial support to the TJRC until the wrangles facing it were solved.
Last Thursday, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo asked the CJ to respond to the petition by the TJRC Commissioners and decide whether or not he would form a tribunal to investigate the chairman.
Mr Kilonzo argued that the CJ was mark-timing on the decision which risked derailing the entire agenda of the truth commission.
“Ideally that letter should have been responded to within two days to say ‘Yes I am appointing a tribunal or No I am not’… the Chief Justice is independent and Amb Kiplagat is independent,” Mr Kilonzo had argued.
Meanwhile, the civil societies absolved themselves from any blame over Ambassador Kiplagat’s selection saying the process was rushed.
“If milk spills on a floor, the floor does not become clean. So the fact that the civil society was involved does not make Ambassador Kiplagat clean because there are issues that came up afterwards,” said Paul Mwaura Deputy Director ICPC.
Civil societies have in the past threatened mass action against the Chief Justice whom they constantly accuse of neglecting his responsibilities.