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Opposition Leader Raila Odinga renews calls for government to implement TJRC report

By Standard Reporter | September 23rd 2016
Cord Leader Raila Odinga addressing a public rally at Kinango, Kwale County on 22nd September 2016

Opposition Leader Raila Odinga, in his final day and rally in the four-day tour of Taita Taveta and Kwale counties, renewed his challenge to the Jubilee administration to summon courage and implement the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation report.

At a final rally in the region at Baraza Park in Kwale, the CORD leader said that in the county, and much of the Coast, the TJRC found evidence of three kinds of abuses including land dispossession, economic marginalization and massacres and extra judicial executions. Raila said TJRC recommended cures for the abuses to enable the country move forward.

On land abuses, the former Prime Minister said TJRC found that the ‘willing-buyer, willing-seller’ land tenure approach was grossly abused and is one of the major causes of disinheritance and landlessness, especially in the Coast.

Landlessness, he said, was found to be the major indicator of marginalization in the Coast, including Kwale adding that TJRC found that the original local inhabitants were dispossessed of their land, first by the colonialists, and later by fraudulent transactions that again ignored the original owners of the land.

He said that after independence, the dispossession of the local people was confirmed and certified instead of being rectified, which led to a palpable sense of a conspiracy against coastal communities.

He challenged Jubilee to implement TJRC recommendations including that the National Land Commission undertakes adjudication and registration exercises at the coast and all other areas where the same has not been conducted, that measures be designed to revoke illegally obtained titles to and re-open all public beaches, beach access routes and fish landing beaches, especially at the coast.

He said TJRC recommended that the National Land Commission in furtherance of its mandate expedites the process of addressing or recovering all irregularly and illegally acquired land and that the Ministry of Lands encourages individuals and entities to surrender illegally acquired land.

Raila said TJRC also recommended that the National Land Commission formulates and implements strict guidelines in terms of maximum acreage an individual or company can buy hold in respect of private land.

On marginalization, the CORD leader said TJRC found that evidence of government’s exclusionary economic policies and practices in the distribution of public jobs and services and this inflicted suffering on huge sections of society at different historical moments.

He said the Commission identified a number of regions as economically marginalized in the post-independence including former North Eastern, Nyanza; North Rift; Coast and Western provinces.

He said TJRC found that what was once called the Northern Frontier Districts, Nyanza and the Coast region could be placed in the category of ‘politically dissident’ regions that have suffered marginalization under successive regimes.

The Coast, he said, was especially marginalized through dispossession due to the confluence of interests arising from the region’s strategic value as a principal gateway to the country and the East and Central African region and its valued seafront land resources.

He said TJRC recommended that the Government take into account the history of economic marginalization of the region, in formulating relevant development policies, including in prioritizing crucial infrastructure development.

TJRC also asked the government to formulate, adopt and implement a policy that deliberately targets the socio-economic development of historically marginalized regions identified by the Commission, Raila said, adding that such policy must include strategic development plans and budgetary allocations aimed at the economic and social development of marginalized communities.

The reparative actions, he said, must be over and above the provisions utilization of the Equalization Fund.

Raila said the TJRC specifically tasked the Government to consider actions such as building an efficient road networks linking marginalized areas with the rest of Kenya, building boreholes and water-catchment systems, building hospitals within reach of all communities, adequately stocked and well-staffed, schools with adequate facilities, courts of law, and to ensure that all government services and public facilities are available to them.

The Opposition leader said TJRC found that massacres have occurred throughout the history of Kenya, including in the Coast during the Giriama Rebellion. The report also documented accounts of police brutality and other kinds of mistreatment by the provincial administration, including extra-judicial killings, arrest and imprisonment of those who agitate for restitution, as well as the destruction of property and evictions of those who live off these lands with contested titles, Raila said.

He questioned the government’s failure to implement recommendations that victims of the massacres be provided with reparations, both individual and collective, within 36 months of the issuance of the Report.

He said TJRC also recommended the release of all minutes of the relevant District Security Committees, Provincial Security Committee, Kenya Intelligence Committee and National Security Council where these matters were discussed and the establishment of memorials at the sites of massacres.

“These were to be done within 24 months of release of the report. Four years later, the government is yet to table this report for debate. I am challenging Jubilee to tell Kenyans why it is sitting on this report. Kenyans want to close this dark chapter in their history and move on to other things,” Raila said.

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