SPEECH BY HON. FRANCIS OLE KAPARO, E.G.H. CHAIRMAN NATIONAL COHESION AND INTEGRATION COMMISSION AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE IN POST-CONFLICT SOCIETIES IN AFRICA HELD AT HEKIMA INSTITUTE OF PEACE STUDIES AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS A CONSTITUENT COLLEGE OF CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF EAST AFRICA (CUEA) ON 9TH OCTOBER, 2014
Your Excellency, Dr. Evans Kidero, Governor - Nairobi County,
Rev. Dr. Elias Omondi Opongo, SJ, Director, HIPSIR,
NCIC Commissioners Present
Partners of this historic conference,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am delighted to make closing remarks of this very important international conference on Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies in Africa. I am aware that the participants of this conference are drawn from the African continent and beyond and are celebrated scholars and practitioners in the field of transitional justice.
I thank Hekima Institute of Peace Studies & International Relations for their kind invitation. On behalf of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, may I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your attendance and for your invaluable contributions since this conference began.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The quest for transitional justice in Africa is an issue that is very dear to me first as a Kenyan, an African and a leader. And now, moreso as the new Chair of Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission, (NCIC), which is one of the Agenda 4 Commission, established together with the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to promote peace, national healing and reconciliation among the people of Kenya.
The setting up of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) if you may recall, was one of the first official attempts by the Government of Kenya to address interethnic tensions and inculcate the spirit of nationhood after four decades of ethnic tensions and ethnically instigated violence in Kenya among other historical injustices. The TJRC report emphasizes the primal role of the NCIC in driving the national reconciliation agenda in its findings and recommendations.
If you may, however, allow me to remind us that while the current discussions about accountability, truth-seeking, and a number of related issues tend to be specifically linked to the Post Election Violence of 2007/2008, which was indeed, an unfortunate event, agitations for transitional justice in my view, distinctively dates back way before the advent of multiparty politics in 1992. The 2007/8-post election violence following a disputed presidential election provided us with opportunity to reflect and tackle these matters of transitional justice more comprehensively.
We have in a number of ways seized this opportunity to address the past historical injustices and gross human rights violations through a number of institutions, processes and mechanisms that emanated from the four main agenda items of National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement of 2008 with a view to address the crisis, reconcile communities and mitigate against future conflicts. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Processes are products of these efforts. A number of such processes include: the promulgation of a new Constitution (Constitution of Kenya 2010) with a strong bill rights, the establishment of the constitutionally protected Independent Commissions and offices with specific mandates to address a numbers of transitional justices concerns as well as institutional reforms including reforms in the Judiciary, Parliament, the Police Service, and the electoral management body.
In spite of a myriad of challenges, the conclusion of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya (TJRC) process and publication of the findings and recommendations of its report also, provides a useful avenue for addressing transitional justice concerns.
The Commission investigated violations of human rights and economic crimes committed by individuals, public institutions, organizations, public office holders, the State, state actors and made recommendation to appropriate institution for further actions including reparations; created a historical record of violations of human rights abuses; and made recommendations for systemic and institutional reforms to ensure that such violations do not occur in the future.
As you are aware, the Commission has accordingly handed in its report for adoption by the parliament. The National Government is awaiting the National Assembly directions around the implementation of the TJRC report.
Ladies and Gentlemen, while I desire to steer the process of national healing and reconciliation, I am alive to the fact that the challenges of the Transitional Justice process in Kenya are many. These range from political goodwill, financial and resource constraints and political polarization manifest in a divided political leadership grappling underlying structural issues such as land and security sector reforms.
Further, the TJRC Report is yet to be socialized amongst key actors including key policy makers. The report also did not identify victims of reparations; and the victims themselves are not uniform in demands due to the different nature of injuries suffered. These are issues that must be addressed for implementation to succeed.
As we prepare to take leadership on matters of reconciliation with regard to the implementation of findings and recommendations of TJRC report, we must thus take cognizance of the political climate within the country today occasioned by a number of developments including the security situation in the country occasioned by terrorism, uncertainty and rapid change around the devolved government, and the continuing political and ethnic polarization as a result of a close and highly contested electoral process. These are practical realities that we have to take into consideration for a realistic and successful TJRC implementation framework for the country.
Fellow Kenyans and brothers from different parts of the African continent, as conceptualized in this workshop, the intended outcome of any process of transitional justice is among other things, to aid communities to heal and move forward. The implementation of the TJRC report thus must be analyzed in light of the rapidly changing legal and institutional developments such as the new laws, existing and new institutions and changing priorities and demands of victims.
I urge you to join hands to pool your efforts towards a practical, realistic, inclusive and incremental implementation framework that takes into cognizance these transformative efforts, including administrative actions, existing structures, laws and institutions such as the National Land Commission as a means to further transitional justice agenda in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Indeed, I recognize that a lot still needs to be done in Kenya to achieve true democracy, harmony, sustainable peace and development. As a country we also have challenges of an unequal society, disrespect for the rule of law and negative ethnicity. These are challenges we must address as to realize our vision of a united, peaceful and integrated Kenyan Society.
We have proudly given ourselves the Constitution of Kenya 2010 which is regarded as a watershed for reform on the continent. Its faithful implementation along with implementation of other laws such as the National Cohesion and Integration Act is key to the realization of transitional justice in our beloved country. The road is long, rough and full of pitfalls. But it is a road that we must travel through.
Allow me to conclude therefore, by emphasizing that the implementation of the findings and recommendations of the TJRC report must thus be grounded not only on firm government policy but also on these practical realities.
I salute the efforts of the various stakeholders including Policy makers, Government Officials, Development partners, Civil Society Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations, Media, Community Council of Elders among other groups and individuals that have played and continue to play a key role in seeking democratic reform, peaceful coexistence and harmonious living of all Kenyans.
I wish you safe journey to your destinations. May peace be with us all in our quest to achieve a just society ruled not by man but law tempered with equity and justice.