, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has blamed the non-activation of a Restorative Justice Fund for lack of political good-will by top leaders.
KNCHR Chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori on Friday urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to dismantle what she described as ‘chains of bureaucracy’ that have made the establishment of the Sh10 billion fund unattainable, three years since he committed to it.
President Kenyatta in his 2015 State of the Nation Address had ordered the National Treasury to set up the fund but government officials – including Attorney General Githu Muigai have in the past admitted bureaucratic bottlenecks have hindered its establishment.
Speaking at an event to mark the International Day for the Right to Truth concerning gross human rights violations and dignity of victims, Mbogori said the establishment of the fund was critical to Kenya’s pursuit for national healing and reconciliation.
“KNCHR reminds the State that reparations has not received considerable political good-will even though some politicians, family members or even communities have suffered gross human rights violations,” she said in her address at the event attended by dozens of survivors of past rights violations.
She, however, commended President Kenyatta for receiving the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s (TJRC) report on historical injustices which he had, in his 2015 State of the Nation Address, urged Parliament to debate and adopt.
“As a National Commission, we call upon the Government to immediately operationalize the Restorative Justice Fund by adopting regulations that shall guide the reparation of victims and survivors,” she urged.
The report is expected to form the basis for the formulation of a national reparation policy.
During the International Day of Right to Truth event held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes, and consequences, Dubravka Šimonovic, urged the government to speed up the compensation of victims of human rights violations.
Šimonovic made the appeal in a speech delivered on her behalf by Senior Human Rights Advisor at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marcello Favretto.
“The Member States of the United Nations are required under International Human Rights Law to make available adequate, effective, prompt and appropriate remedies including reparation to victims of human rights violations,” Favretto said.
“These remedies include compensation, medical care and guarantees of non-repetition,” she added.
Kang’ethe Mungai, a former Nyayo torture chambers victim and former coordinator of People Against Torture (PAT) told Capital FM News on the sidelines of the event that he hoped President Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga will utilize their newfound working relationship to actualize the reparation fund.
Mungai also pointed out the need to put in place mechanisms for legal aid to afford those unable to pay legal fees a chance to seek redress for past violations.
“Odinga kept talking about the TJRC report and now that he is working with the President we would wish to approach him so that he can make sure he utilizes his friendship with the Head of State to advance our agenda,” he said.
In last year’s International Day of Right to Truth marked on March 24, Attorney General Githu Muigai had said the State Law Office was working to address lengthy and convoluted bureaucratic processes hindering the establishment of the restorative justice fund.
“I must take some responsibility including my colleagues at the Treasury because what followed was a bureaucratic process in which there was lack of clarity on where the funds would be placed and how they would be administered,” Muigai said.
According to the outgoing AG, the government had experienced challenges in meeting obligations relating to judgments, mediation or arbitration orders owing to the manner in which such funds were claimed by different government dockets in the past.
“What has happened is that the ministry involved in a particular case, say the Interior would itself go to The Treasury, receive the funding, and send the money to the AG then to the Solicitor General then the money would be disbursed. Unfortunately, that system has been extremely inefficient and unjust,” the outgoing AG said.
To eliminate challenges in processing reparation claims, Muigai had indicated that the fund would be centralized with the National Treasury after which at least Sh1 billion would be released annually to settle reparation claims.