News / Africa

Kenya Truth Commission Report Links Leaders to Abuses

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the honor guard before the opening of the 11th Parliament at the National Assembly Chamber in the capital Nairobi, Apr. 16, 2013.
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta inspects the honor guard before the opening of the 11th Parliament at the National Assembly Chamber in the capital Nairobi, Apr. 16, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
A long-awaited report from Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has linked several of Kenya’s leaders, including current President Uhuru Kenyatta, to abuses committed throughout the country’s history.  The commission has called for further investigation of those responsible for these crimes in an effort to bring closure.
 
After five years of research based on over 40,000 statements and 600 hearings across the country, the TJRC late Tuesday handed over its final report to President Kenyatta.
 
Formed in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 post-election violence, the TJRC was tasked with investigating human rights abuses committed by the state since Kenya’s independence in 1963.
 
Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, are both mentioned in the report, accused of inciting and financing the violence five years ago.  But the TJRC recommends no further action against the two, as they are already facing trial at the International Criminal Court on the same charges.
 
TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat says the report aims to help the country move beyond the mistakes of the past.
 
“The whole purpose of the Truth, Justice, Reconciliation Commission is to find closure.  A closure to issues related to violations, gross violations of human rights, murders, rape, abduction, marginalization, whatever," he said.
 
Numerous public figures named

The report names hundreds of public figures accused of involvement in abuses ranging from economic crimes to political assassinations.
 
Chairman Kiplagat himself is named in the report for his alleged role in the 1984 “Wagalla Massacre” in which hundreds or possibly thousands of ethnic Somalis were killed by government forces at an airstrip in the northeast of the country.
 
Kiplagat, who at the time served in the government of President Daniel arap Moi, says he is willing to cooperate with any possible investigation.
 
“These are allegations, as far as I’m concerned, and though I am named, it says that it requires some investigation and this is very good, this is part of our laws, so I would be more than ready and willing for anyone to carry out investigation on those issues that have been raised," he said. 
 
The report notes that Kenya has made progress on many of the issues examined by the commission since it began its work, including the enactment of a new constitution that strives for more equal distribution of resources, and the formation of an anti-corruption commission.
 
Kiplagat says these institutions will help to implement the commission’s recommendations.
 
"If you want further investigation, you don’t do it, you ask the public prosecution to carry on with the investigation.  If there is an issue on land that needs to be further dealt with, you take it to the commissioner of land.  Let them do it, and hopefully, closure," he said. 
 
The TJRC calls for further action including an apology from the current government for the abuses committed in the past, and the establishment of a nearly $6 million (500 million Shilling) fund for reparations.

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