Truth commission should be disbanded

The argument that Kenyans need to think outside the disgraced Truth Commission box comes at a time when we have to reflect on what we are looking for through a genuine, impartial, independent and credible Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

Access to justice is key to the progression of human rights. The key question asked by victims and survivors of injustice is: Can justice be accessed through those assumed or perceived to have been involved, implicated, linked and associated with human rights violations, and at whose expense?

The formation of what is being called people’s tribunals or people’s truth commissions by civil society organisations moves the debate to when shall the Government answer hard questions of accountability, restore people’s confidence and hold duty bearers accountable for their sins of commission or omissions?

Civil society has documented and put forth strong cases of human rights violations from the colonial era to date. Notable examples have been the filing of the Mau Mau case in London, going to court over land matters and questioning the appointments of some persons to critical commissions such as TJRC.

But the State’s response has been rather wanting, thus breeding a culture of impunity and corruption. In all our endeavours, justice must be seen to be done by those in authority. This is why Governments are voted in and others out, depending on what people are pursuing as political, social, economic and cultural justice.


TJRC as formed and composed does not reflect any seriousness in the search for justice from the Government’s side. People know what the truth is and do not want to be taken for a ride by persons perceived to be out to cleanse the names of their masters.

What TJRC is doing is turning the justice people are crying for into a mirage. The formation of a tribunal to probe Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat’s suitability following allegations into matters related to the death of Robert Ouko, land acquisition in Lavington and Kileleshwa and the Wagalla Massacre is meant to tire the public.

We ought to have learnt from history that rarely are people’s efforts, including truth telling, legally binding to the State. They remain hearsay if they are not recorded in Government records and rarely are they taken seriously to warrant police investigation.

{Stephen Musau, via e-mail}