X

KNCHR Chairperson's Opening Remarks During the International Day for the Right to Truth 2017

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),

The Office of the Attorney General,

Members of the Kenya Transitional Justice Network (KTJN),

Members of the National Victims and Survivors Network (NVSN),

All Protocols observed,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning to you all!

KNCHR is delighted to join all of you today in commemorating this International Day for the Right to Truth. On behalf of the Commission, I stand here to acknowledge the fact that truth precedes justice and that the best we can do, as a people, is not to remain silent, but to louden the voice of truth seeking.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Only the truth can put the past to rest”. As a Commission, we believe that societies and individuals are entitled to know the truth about mass human rights violations.

International law recognizes the right of victims and survivors to know about the circumstances of serious violations of their human rights and about who was responsible. International law continues to develop in this area and on the concept of a society’s right to the truth.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thousands of individuals and communities across our nation have suffered cruelty, torture and inhumane treatment. Indeed those at the forefront of defending human rights have not been spared either with rising cases of Human Rights Defenders being targeted in the course of their work. We also recognize that for these thousands of victims and survivors across the country, such an opportunity to acknowledge their suffering is a worthy deed. Every time cases of torture and inhumane treatment of people are reported in our country, we all share and carry the pain.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On a daily basis, KNCHR receives numerous cases of human rights violations. We take those cases with the seriousness they deserve. And while the Commission work hard to unearth the truths around the violations for purposes of seeking redress, it is our mandate as a government watchdog to give advisories on necessary institutional reforms that address the root causes of these violations.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights lauds the efforts made by every partner involved in truth seeking for the voiceless. In this regard, the Commission recognizes the efforts of the Kenya Transitional Justice Network for the relentless work in seeking reparations for victims of historical injustices. As a Commission, we stand by you until the objective is achieved. The Commission further acknowledges the important role that the Attorney General and his able officers in the Department of Justice has played so far in this process and further calls on the fast tracking of the enactment of the reparations regulations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights continues its relentless work of seeking truth, justice and reparations by documenting violations through investigations, inquiries and public hearings. Just to mention a few of the reports we have published:

i.                    The Mountain of Terror “,

ii.                  The Cry of Blood”,

iii.                A Country under Siege”,

iv.                “Error of Fighting Terror with Terror”.

Ladies and Gentlemen in all these reports our objective was one: We sought to find the truth for thousands of voiceless victims and survivors.

As a nation, we have attempted to uncover the full truth about historical injustices since 1963 to 2008. The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) gathered statements and memoranda from both individuals and communities. In the words of the TJRC, Kenya was…“a nation divided along ethnic and regional lines, suspicious of one another . . . and needed to confront the truth of its painful past and heal in order to chart the path towards a shared future.”

It is on the basis of that truth that we have worked tirelessly with Kenya Transitional Justice Network stakeholders, in the last four years, to seek reparations for these victims and survivors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you recall in the past few weeks, the Commission, prior to the State of the Nation Address by the President, issued a state of Human Rights and Freedoms statement where we categorically called on his Excellency to support the adoption and implementation of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report. As a Commission we shall continue actively engaging all arms of government to ensure the reparations of victims and survivors of historical injustices.

 Today, we take this opportunity to closely remember the lives and the work of human rights defenders who have been killed in their line of duty. We must not allow ourselves to forget them and the sacrifices they made to ensure we live in a democratic society. Similarly, we cannot afford to forget the many living unsung heroes in our midst. Your lives, though damaged by acts of torture, are a living testimony and a reason why this day is being commemorated. 

We commemorate this day for the simple reason that the Kenyan State has not yet dealt with systematic gross violations of human rights. Some of these violations are historical, whereas others are current.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Commission believes that the right to truth is critical as it brings out root causes of problems, generates true reconciliation and healing, restores dignity and informs institutional reforms. KNCHR holds the strong opinion that when truth is excluded in a reparations process, the chances of repeat violations being perpetrated in the same manner are higher.  Our country has not yet healed. From all corners of the country the violations, as documented in the TJRC report, still persist. From Wajir to Kiambu to Kwale to Kisumu to Baringo and even in our own capital city of Nairobi, we continue to witness the systematic violations.

 KNCHR recently conducted a public inquiry into the insecurity and impact on the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms in the North Rift and the Coast regions and we invite all of you to read the findings and recommendations once the reports are launched.

On behalf of the Commission, thank you for your participation in this important day. Let us continue to fight for the truth and justice and remain a candle in the wind and keep the flame going.

Asanteni!

Ms Kagwiria Mbogori

Chairperson

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights