, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 10 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) came out strongly on Wednesday, defending its credibility over accusations that it coached or paid witnesses to testify against possible suspects of the 2008 post-election violence.
In response to claims made by Eldoret North MP William Ruto on Tuesday that a commissioner at the KNCHR had manipulated witnesses who are expected to testify at the ICC, the commission said it stood by a report it produced implicating several politicians in the chaos.
“We received information from individuals, as well as (looking) at various sources. We don’t engage in those issues of bribing witnesses,” KNCHR chairperson Florence Simbiri-Jaoko said in rebutting accusations leveled against one of its commissioners Hassan Omar Hassan.
“If the Honourable William Ruto has any tangible information on any wrongdoing on the part of any of our commissioners, let him present it to the relevant authorities for the necessary action rather than attempt to put a whole institution into disrepute,” Mrs Simbiri-Jaoko said.
She spoke in the company of five commissioners including Mr Hassan, who declined to comment about the matter, only saying “the commission has given its position.”
On Tuesday, the suspended Higher Education Minister told a news conference that he had evidence showing that Mr Hassan had paid and coached witnesses to give false information to the KNCHR when it compiled the investigative report on post election violence.
“It is Mr Hassan who is behind all this… he has been bribing witnesses and coaching them so that they can give false information, I know all this and that is why I want Hassan to respond and confirm if he has been doing this or no. Once he responds, I will pose more questions to him,” Mr Ruto had said on Tuesday.
Mr Ruto is among several high-ranking leaders in and out of government named in a damning report that was compiled by the KNCHR giving an account of the post election violence.
The report titled On the Brink of the Precipice: A Human Rights Account of Kenya\’s Post-2007 Election Violence recommends further investigations against most of those mentioned. Read the full report here.
Mrs Simbiri-Jaoko said the Commission recorded information from 1,102 witnesses and had visited most parts of the country, particularly those affected by the violence that broke out in the country soon after the 2007 disputed Presidential Elections.
“In the gathering of information on post-election violence, the Commission acted in the interest of the country, for the sake of national stability, and for the sake of the victims of human rights violations,” she said and maintained that Mr Ruto was among the leaders who were called by the commission to give their side of the story.
On Tuesday, Mr Ruto had accused the commission of failing to give him a fair hearing during its investigations.
“The Commission made efforts to contact those mentioned. In particular, given that this was election-related violence, the Commission sent out letters to all the Members of Parliament, which, however, elicited few responses. William Ruto was one of the MPs who responded and visited the commission,” she said.
Mr Ruto has vowed to clear his name against accusations leveled against him over the post election violence and even traveled to The Hague where he spent last weekend with ICC investigators.