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Seeking Justice For Victims And Survivors Of Historical Violations And Marginalization-The KNCHR Journey!

Seeking Justice For Victims And Survivors Of Historical Violations And Marginalization-The KNCHR Journey!

Giving Survivors a voice in the Truth Commission

The KNCHR has from the onset played a key role in shaping the transitional justice agenda in Kenya. In 2007, KNCHR was part of a Multi-Sectoral task force that drafted the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Act and advocated for its enactment in 2008.

In preparation of the Truth Commission processes, the KNCHR supported victims and survivors by providing a platform to build thematic networks across the country.

Following the establishment of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), KNCHR played a pivotal role in the succeeding efforts on Transitional Justice. KNCHR helped in the sensitization of victims and victim groups on the TJRC’s mandate and process; preparation of victims and victim groups to participate in statement taking and public hearings; assisting victims and victim groups to prepare memoranda for presentation to the TJRC; and monitoring the overall TJRC process. In addition, KNCHR prepared submissions to TJRC on various thematic areas namely:

  1. Extra – Judicial killings – The Cry of Blood Report
  2. Torture – The Nyayo Torture Chambers and the Mountain of Terror ; the Mt. Elgon Report
  3. The Massacres – The Wagalla and the Turbi Massacres
  4. The Organized Crimes- the Mungiki and the Sungu Sungu
  5. The Internal Displacements Persons – The PEV cases as well as those that have been there ever since and those of the ethnic classes.
  6. Security sector reform
  7. Marginalization – The case for the regional offices.
  8. Reparations and the call for accountability.

Pushing for justice post TJRC

Following the winding down of the TJRC’s term and the presentation of its final report to the President on 21st May 2013, the continued advocating for reforms and accountability for the historical atrocities.  

The major interventions undertaken by the KNCHR included the following:

  • Developed a simple version of the TJRC report that teased out the key issues and recommendations. This report was widely disseminated among survivor groups across the country.
  • Supported Victims and survivor’s network during their annual conventions  
  • Facilitated the construction to commemorate Wagalla massacre monument
  • Archived evidences of the gross human rights violations evidence
  • Supported Nyayo House Torture chambers and their families during public viewing of the chambers
  • Supported victims of sexual violence through two court processes and memorandums

What next after the TJRC?

Setting the motions for reparations!

Reparations are a means of dignifying victims by measures that are aimed at promoting justice and reconciliation by redressing historical injustices through rehabilitation, compensation, restitution or collective reparations, in a degree that is proportionate to the gravity of the violation(s) and the harm suffered. It is meant to recognize and address the harms suffered and acknowledge wrongdoing as well as the legal obligation of the state or individuals or groups to repair harm caused directly or by failure to prevent violations.

The reparations agenda was kept alive due to the efforts of the Kenya Transitional Justice Network. KNCHR is part of the network. In 2016, the office of the Attorney General wrote to KNCHR to lead a process of developing Reparations Regulations based on Public Finance Management Act 2012. In 2017, KTJN developed the regulations and submitted to the office of the Attorney General for review and submission to Parliament.

 KNCHR continues to utilize other avenues for advocating for the implementation of the TJRC report specifically reparations of victims. The KNCHR has utilized platforms such as State of the Nation Address by the President and commemoration of victims and survivors related forums to lobby for a reparation mechanism in Kenya. The most prominent of these forums is during the International Day for Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims which is done every year on March 24th

Kenya Transitional Justice Network (KTJN)

This is a loose network of organizations that have consistently facilitated the push for an institutionalized reparation mechanism in Kenya. In the past, they have developed strategies and held consultations in order to drive forward Transitional Justice Agenda in Kenya. When the network was formed, members included: the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), GIZ, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Constitution & Reform Education Consortium (CRECO), Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Accord International, Freedom House and the International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC).

Key KTJN achievements 

  • Worked closely with the office Attorney General to discuss and formalize reparations framework including the Ksh 10 Billion announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2015
  • Produced abridged/ user friendly version of the TJRC report
  • Worked together with experts to develop draft reparation Regulations under the Public Finance Management Act
  • Have developed a draft Reparations Policy for consideration in the development of National Reparations Policy
  • Supported  seven consecutive victims and survivor’s network conventions and commemoration forums
  • Supported victims and survivors during various candle-lit functions to commemorate different forms of gross human rights violations
  • Some members documented cases of cases of historical injustices

CHALLENGES OF TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE

  • Lack of political will to operationalize reparations
  • Unresolved land question
  • Challenges of past efforts such as that of Internally Displaced People: land and cash transfer
  • Difficulty of prosecuting perpetrators of historical injustices
  • Thin balance between peace, justice and the idea of moving on as country
  • Lack of resources to support reparations
  • SGBV as a weapon war is both historical and recurrent
  • Legislative challenges e.g. amendment of TJ Act
  • Civilian ignorance on reparations
  • Lack substantial law on reparations

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Strong KTJN partnership
  • The Devolved Governments provides opportunity to heal communities through affirmative action in their respective areas 
  • Relative calm following the contested elections and handshake between President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga
  • The Reparations policy provides opportunity to for nationwide registration to cover where TJRC did not cover 

GAPS

  • Need for public awareness on reparations
  • The need for resources for logistical and programmatic support to KNCHR and KTJN to lobby for reparations framework
  • Need for an in-depth analysis on possible scenarios that are due to the unique Kenyan cases facing reparations  
  • Need to popularize the Reparations Regulations and the eventual Reparations Policy among all key stakeholders
  • The need to engage County governments to take a role in reparations work
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