Transitional justice: a case study of Kenya's Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Dindi, Kenneth O
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There has been a remarkable increase in the number and type of truth commissions being created globally. This study examines the Kenyan Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC). This study aims to answer the question? How does the TJRC work? What the TJRC achieve during its preparatory phase? And what are the principal activities. The TJRC was established under section 3(1) of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Act No.6 of2008 with the objective of promoting peace, justice, national unity, healing, reconciliation and dignity among the people of Kenya. It is mandated to inquire into and investigate historical injustices and gross human rights violations, including violation of socio-economic rights that occurred between 12 December 1963 and 28 February 2008. The study applied Peace Building Theory. The researcher used qualitative data collected to make general statements on how categories or themes of data are related and the main steps in the data analysis involved; data organization, creating (identifying) categories, themes and patterns, analyzing and interpreting information. The discourse of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Kenya comes against a backdrop of Kenya's experience in the post-election violence of 2007-2008 which left about 1500 dead and over 360,000 displaced. The leaders of the principal parties of ODM and PNU under the auspices of the Africa Union Panel of Eminent Persons signed the Agreement on the Principles of Partnership in the Coalition Government on 28th February 2008. Within the structure of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Forum, the parties agreed to the establishment of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008. Truth Commissions have been used in many countries around the world as effective vehicles for transitioning from a period of political upheaval, abuse of human rights and in some cases armed conflicts, to an era where there is no abuse of human rights, the reign of the rule of law and the upholding of general values of democracy. The ease of the functioning of Truth Commissions is dictated in most cases by various issues such as whether the transition is political (such is the case of a previous armed conflict), or a democratic transition (which is called for by the need to reform and better entrench the rule of law). In all cases, it is never easy to conclude whether to engage more in punitive measures such as prosecution against the perpetrators of human rights violations, or to embrace a restorative form of justice. In conclusion, it is imperative to have a wholesome appreciation of justice and see the existing mechanisms, especially those that are government instituted, as embracing a complementary role towards the uncovering of our beloved country's past truths, promoting restorative justice and national healing.