14 February 2013

Kenya: KNCHR Slams Truth Commission As a Sham

Nairobi — The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has lashed out at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) for delaying a report meant to jumpstart Kenyans' healing process as they prepare for the March 4 poll.

KNCHR Acting Chairperson Anne Munyiva told Capital FM News that the truth commission had failed Kenyans because it had not released its report as scheduled, yet the anticipated general election was the first after the bloodbath witnessed in 2008.

She added that the delay beats the whole purpose of setting it (TJRC) up in the first place, noting that it would have addressed all the injustices committed before the forthcoming elections.

"Kenyans would have reached a reconciliatory mode by now and they have not. They are actually saying that they have not healed and the person who burnt their property or killed their relative is still walking out there free," she said.

The commission had a two year shelf life to carry out its duty and conclude its work by November 2011. However leadership and financial woes delayed its operations and it successfully sought two time extensions; first in 2011 and later in 2012.

The TJRC has been going round the country to investigate the events surrounding the post election violence alongside other historical injustices meted against Kenyans including the Wagalla massacre.

Munyiva also asked the government to put up a memorial to commemorate the lives lost in the violence that rocked the country after the disputed poll and especially the 2008 Kiambaa church incident.

Thirty six Kenyans, who had sought refuge inside the church at the height of the post election violence were burnt to death and their unmarked graves dot the ground around it.

"There seems to be no government recognition of the pain and suffering they went through. Nothing has happened; no commemorative plaque; no tree planting," she said.

"Surely the government should have done something in Kiambaa. The pain is still so fresh and it is like they (victims) are about to relive the same experience."

She at the same time cautioned politicians against revolving their discussions around land, arguing that it would polarise the country.

Munyiva urged politicians to give due regard to the seriousness that surrounds debates on land owing to their highly emotive nature.

"Land is too serious an issue to trade remarks on. People have died because of land at the family level, the community level and at the national level," she said.

"It is very sad to see the emphasis and over emphasis on it, without giving due regard to the kind of emotions that it can spark," she argued.

She also challenged Kenyans to elect the right leaders noting that whatever choice they made on March 4 would have a bearing on the country.

"We must get rid of leaders who have taken us nowhere and we must bring out the best. If we make a mistake in our choice of leaders we will have to wait another five years to get new ones and five years is a very long time," she cautioned.

Although she also called for a speedy civic education programme, the government has said that it will embark on the exercise in the last two weeks to the election.

Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said that it would help preserve Kenyans' memory if done as close to the poll as possible.

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