Will Kenya’s restorative justice fund sideline truth commission findings?

04 May 2015 by Abdullahi Boru, Nairobi (Kenya)

Earlier this year Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in his state of the union address not only apologized on behalf of the state for past human rights abuses, but also announced a three-year, 10 billion Kenyan-shilling (96 million-euro) “restorative justice” fund for victims of such atrocities. But critics say much is unclear about the plan and how it will co-exist with reparations processes and procedures envisaged by the now defunct Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) [IJT-162].

Kenya's TJRC "had no political champions," says Mutuma Ruteere, director of the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies in Nairobi (Photo: Flickr/unisgeneva/UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)
Image caption: 
Kenya's TJRC "had no political champions," says Mutuma Ruteere, director of the Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies in Nairobi (Photo: Flickr/unisgeneva/UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Kenyatta’s March promise came just months after the International Criminal Court dropped his charges of alleged crimes against humanity in Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence [IJT-172]. Those events left 1,500 people dead and over a half-million displaced. The end of the Kenyatta case left its more than 20,000 participating victims empty-handed.

Over a month since the fund was announced, little is known about how it will function or work alongside recommendations by the TJRC. In 2008, that commission was established to promote, ambitiously, peace, justice, national unity, healing and reconciliation among Kenyans. It was meant to give victims, perpetrators and the general public a platform for non-retributive truth-telling. But the commission was unpopular from the start.

Short on political will, not shillings

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