KNCHR operations risk grinding to a halt

November 22, 2012 3:21 pm


KNCHR officials at work in the Tana Delta/COURTESY-KNCHR
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22- Mohammed Shika Shika, a Pokomo resident of Anasa village, in the Tana Delta may have to wait a little longer before getting the justice he seeks owing to the fact that the fate of those who should be championing for his rights hangs in the air.

Shika was among the many Kenyans who made the statistics of those who were greatly affected by the Tana Delta massacre that left 100 civilians and nine law enforcers brutally murdered.

However the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), which promised him and others that it would ensure their rights are respected henceforth, risks being driven out of business by the lack of commissioners whose term expires next week.

The human rights watchdog has been acting under the leadership of Samuel Tororei alongside five commissioners. Tororei’s term and that of three other commissioners expires on Monday, November 26.

“The only commissioner who will be left behind after November 26 is Anne Munyiva because her term ends sometime next year. She will not be able to carry out the functions of the KNCHR because she will have no quorum for meetings, no body for decision making and she will have to carry out the duties of five people,” said former KNCHR vice-chairperson Hassan Omar Hassan.

Hassan told Capital FM News on Thursday that there was great need for the High Court to settle the case that was delaying the appointment of the KNCHR commissioners.

“The KNCHR will come close to what the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission currently is. It is a legal anomaly that should be checked before time runs out and if the Court delivers its ruling then the selection panel can restart the process,” he said.

Munyiva had on Wednesday stressed the need for the court to finalise the case asking that the commissioners be in office by at least January next year in view of the forthcoming elections.

She noted that the KNCHR selection panel short listed 15 commissioners out of a list of 83 before the court injunction was sought.

“The selection panel advertised for the position of chair and three commissioners. The shortlisting was done but the matter went to court and there is no movement and we hope that we will be able to move from that position,” she said.

Munyiva also noted that the selection panel had wanted the interviews for the KNCHR Chairperson repeated owing to the low number of applicants who qualified for the position.

Law Society of Kenya Chairperson Eric Mutua, who led the selection panel, confirmed Munyiva’s statements saying that only one candidate qualified for the chair’s position making it necessary to call for a repeat.

“Only five people applied for the position and we interviewed three before settling on one nominee. However the law requires that we forward three names so we asked for a repeat process but our mandate expired before we could carry out fresh interviews,” he explained.

He added that the panel had also asked the Attorney General to advise the President to make a gazette notice extending their timelines but nothing had been forthcoming.

Hassan however explained that the only way the extension sought would be given was through an amendment of the KNCHR Act 2011.

In is interesting to note that this law has no provisions for such a request.

“The president cannot just amend or extend their time by making a gazette notice. He has to get the approval of Parliament first,” he argued.

An advert seeking candidates for these positions was placed in the dailies on October 6, this year, before the shortlisting was done.

However certain individuals went to court blocking the commissioners’ nomination arguing that the selection panel did not consider people from marginalised areas.

“This accusation does not hold any water because we selected candidates from northern Kenya and even some with various physical disabilities,” argued Mutua.

The KNCHR is also scheduled to address a press briefing on November 26 highlighting these concerns.


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