NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has vowed not to work with embattled chairman Bethuel Kiplagat, despite Friday’s court ruling dismissing an application to bar him from office.
Acting chairperson Tecla Namachanja told journalists on Monday that the commission would not cooperate with Kiplagat until he was investigated and cleared by a tribunal.
She argued that his return to office was retrogressive as it would undermine the progress that the commission had achieved so far.
“The TJRC is firmly against returning to the status quo by associating itself again with Ambassador Kiplagat whose integrity will continue being the subject of inquiry. There is no shortcut to justice,” she said.
“Until the allegations against him are addressed, the commissioners will be unable to cooperate or work with him,” she stressed.
She added that Kiplagat’s return to office would be a conflict of interest since he had been mentioned during the TJRC hearings and would be required to appear as a witness.
The commission also announced plans to appeal against the ruling by the High Court.
Commissioner Gertrude Chawatama explained that the TJRC would file its appeal once it received a copy of the High Court’s ruling.
“We intend to file a notice of appeal once we have sight of the judgment so that we can fully furnish the court with our grounds for appeal,” she said.
Kiplagat stepped down from the commission’s leadership mantle in November 2010 following increased credibility concerns raised against him by a cross section of Kenyans.
The besieged chairman was accused of complicity in human rights abuses that were committed during former President Daniel arap Moi’s regime, including the Wagalla massacre.
Although Kiplagat maintained innocence, a judicial tribunal was formed to investigate him but its works were derailed after he rushed to Court blocking its mandate.
“He sought legal action that stopped the work of the tribunal midway and when its term expired, he voluntarily withdrew the application but the tribunal is yet to run its full course,” Namachanja pointed out.
Commissioner Margaret Shava also maintained that the court ruling had not cleared Kiplagat as he had not yet been probed by the tribunal.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Victims and Survivors Network, Wafula Buke said Kiplagat’s return to office will be a blow to victims of historical injustices.
“Kiplagat continues being a pothole in our work but potholes are not a hindrance to motion. And I don’t think there is any legal detergent anyone can deploy to create a better chairman in Kiplagat,” he quipped.
Several other victims of historic injustices gathered outside the TJRC offices in Nairobi’s community area chanting anti Kiplagat songs.
The victims, mostly from northern Kenya, accused Kiplagat of being behind some of the atrocities that were committed against them in the former regime.
Buke also said that it would be wrong for him to chair the TJRC hearings, which are still going on.
“We do not anticipate having Kiplagat participating in the hearings and I think this communication has been forwarded to the commission. So we hope that we won’t be compelled to assist him from the hearings tomorrow,” he stressed.
Namachanja also said that the commission would not be derailed by any “sideshows” noting that it had managed to collect over 40,000 individual statements and close to 1000 memoranda in its bid to reconcile Kenyans.