The necessity of transitional justice in Kenya and the merits of certain institutional mechanisms in particular have been vigorously debated in this forum, as well as within the country itself. In both of these contexts, the perspectives of victims of past violence have received only modest attention.
The debates over transitional justice in Kenya have been largely silent on the issue of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). It is evident that beyond the initial commentary at the TJRC’s inception – when the appointment of some commissioners was vigorously queried – much of the attention has focused on possible prosecution of key perpetrators either in The Hague or by the Special Tribunal for Kenya.
I don’t envy Louis Moreno-Ocampo in his position as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, that is not to suggest that I will be either sympathetic or forgiving if he botches the investigations of Kenya’s high-profile suspects. This article argues that Kenyans must monitor the approach and performance of the ICC in the country.
When Prof. Makau Mutua suggested that the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) may have lessons for Kenya, he focused on the robust recommendations of the Commission. He did not explore another reason why Kenya might look to Liberia: the crisis of credibility that plagued the beginning of Liberia’s TRC process. This essay argues that there are good reasons to take seriously the challenges to credibility, because they often denote a shortcoming in institutional legitimacy, itself thought to influence the effectiveness of transitional justice processes.
The Kenyan Cabinet recently resolved to put forward the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) as a way to address the post-election violence. In this first of three essays looking at some of the misconceptions in the transitional justice debate in Kenya (the next two contributions will consider domestic and international prosecutions respectively), I evaluate whether the establishment of the TJRC makes the Kenyan situation inadmissible before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
There seems to be consensus around the need to deal with injustices– gross human rights violations, economic crimes and abuse of power –perpetrated in Kenya over the last 35 years. However, Kenya lacks a coherent policy on the broader question of transitional justice: which institutions should be used (Special Tribunal for Kenya (1), Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission(2) [TJRC] or criminal courts), how these mechanisms should be deployed, how they would relate to each other, and how such mechanisms would fit within the ongoing constitutional and institutional reforms proposed under Agenda Four of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) process that produced the current Government of National Unity (GNU)
The Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) is mandated to enquire into human rights violations, including community displacements, settlements, evictions, historical land injustices, and the illegal or irregular acquisition of land, especially as these relate to conflict or violence. access to land is often cited as one of the key structural causes of violence in Kenya. However, political figures have manipulated and misrepresented the ‘land issue’ in the country, to the extent that it often seems to be an excuse, rather than a valid grievance. How should the TJRC address the land issue, which is so easily instrumentalized and so deeply linked to problematic conceptions of ethnicity? In order to answer this question, we first have to ask: why is the land issue relevant today?