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NAIROBI, October 3, 2013 – In a legal brief submitted yesterday to Kenya’s High Court, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) warns that striking down parts of the final report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya (TJRC) would amount to censorship and obstruct the right of victims to an effective remedy for past violations.
The High Court is now considering a petition challenging the constitutionality of the TJRC’s recommendations, which petitioners argue are mandatory.
Recommendations include the investigation and prosecution of persons suspected of committing gross human rights violations – and that the president apologize for historical atrocities.
In its amicus brief, ICTJ clarifies that while the recommendations of the truth commission are not legally binding, they are nonetheless legitimate.
“It is of great concern to us that this petition reflects fundamental misconceptions about critical transitional justice issues that could undermine victims’ rights,” says Christopher Gitari of ICTJ Kenya. “It is our hope that the court will benefit from ICTJ’s knowledge and comparative expertise on the objectives of truth-seeking processes.”
Kenya’s TJRC was established in 2008 to investigate gross human rights violations and other historical injustices committed in Kenya between December 1963 and February 2008. Working over a period of four years, the TJRC sought to identify the underlying causes of the 2007/2008 post-election violence and propose sustainable solutions. On May 21, 2013, it handed over its final report, which is now tabled before the National Assembly.
The TJRC report includes several recommendations regarding access to justice, reform of government institutions, investigations and prosecutions, reparations, and exclusion from public office of a number of people.
In recognition of ICTJ’s knowledge and experience of truth seeking and transitional justice, the High Court accepted ICTJ as an amicus curiae (or friend of the court), allowing the group to serve as experts before the court as it weighs the merits of the petition.
The International Center for Transitional Justice works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse. ICTJ seeks holistic solutions to promote accountability and create just and peaceful societies.
Nairobi: Christopher Gitari, Acting Head of Office, ICTJ Kenya
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +254 20 2672816
New York: Refik Hodzic, ICTJ Director of Communications
E-mail: email@example.com Phone: +1 917 975 2286
PHOTO: Commissioners of Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), during one of the hearings. (Kenya TJRC)