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Address all historical injustices, experts tell State

By Stephen Makabila | Nov 10th 2013 | 3 min read

By  Stephen Makabila             

Policy and security experts say Kenya has to develop a homegrown roadmap to addressing historical injustices if national cohesion and stability is to be achieved.

Experts from academia and the civil society who met at a Nairobi hotel on Thursday at a forum organised by the African Policy Institute (API) also noted the country lacks policy direction in terms of where its headed beyond the International Criminal Court (ICC) question.

“Two developments have drawn approaches to transitional justice in Kenya into sharp focus. First is the release in May 2013 of the report by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and second, the ongoing standoff between the African Union (AU) and the ICC over what is viewed as a retributive approach likely to expose African states to further insecurity,” said Prof Peter Kagwanja.

Kagwanja added: “Assuming the ICC cases collapse, deferral succeeds, or the president and his deputy decide not to co-operate, what will be next for transitional justice? Will victims feel justice has been done? Can there be genuine reconciliation process?” 

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang faces charges at The Hague over post-election violence of 2008. 

The Government, through AU has, however, been pushing for deferral of the ICC cases. While Ruto and Sang’s cases are ongoing, Kenyatta’s case has been pushed to February next year.

Kagwanja said it is important for the country to look for alternative means to realize and guarantee in the next 50 years, or sink back to where it was in 2007/08. 

IC C cases

“Are we a country in transition or we are transiting. Does the ICC cases and the TJRC report that is yet to be acted upon help us to understand where we are?” posed Kagwanja.

Among key speakers at the forum included Bethuel Kiplagat, chairman of the defunct TJRC, former Justice and Constitutional Affairs PS Gichira Kibara, Dr Apollos Machira, the Executive Director, Among recommendations reached at the forum whose theme was Transitional Justice in Africa: The Debate between Restorative or Retributive Justice, included the need to speed up the establishment of an implementation commission on the TJRC report.

The commission has to be formed by Government through approval of the National Assembly. The TJRC report was released in May but the Government is yet to act on recommendations.

Some of the participants at the forum noted silence on the part of the Government was partly because the report touched on almost who is who in the country’s political leadership.

The forum said a commission implementing the TJRC report should unite and not divide, and should not deal with sensitive issues that can fuel ethnic divisions. According to Kagwanja, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) had failed to unite the country through reconciliation by employing what he termed wrong approaches.

 “NCIC has ended up dividing the country more. How do you release non-scientific figures showing ethnic levels in public

Ethnic hatred

employment. That is fueling ethnic hatred,” said Kagwanja.

The mandate of NCIC was to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in Kenya and to advice the Government thereof.

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