NPI-Africa : TJRC – Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and Transitional Justice in Africa: Lessons and Implications for Kenya

NPI-Africa

A Peace Research Organization

Background Paper: April 2008

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and Transitional Justice in

Africa: Lessons and Implications for Kenya

By George Wachira1 and Prisca Kamungi2

This Policy Brief is intended to contribute to the public debate on the proposed Truth,

Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) for Kenya. The content is informed by

ongoing research being carried out by NP I-Africa and the West Africa Network for

Peacebuilding (WANEP). Focusing specifically on respondent’s expectations and

perceptions, the research aims at drawing out lessons from transitional justice

experiences in Africa, in particular the increasingly popular TRC approach. The

research examined three countries that have concluded their TRCs or equivalents

(Ghana, Sierra Leone and South Africa), one that is in the process of implementing

(Liberia) and two that are still considering setting up TRCs (DRC, Kenya). Respondents

were drawn from a wide sample of victims, experts, former commissioners, civil society

actors, government officials, perpetrators, individuals who gave testimonies or submitted

statements to the commissions, relatives of victims, care professionals and researchers,

among others.

I. Introduction

The debate on the formation of a TRC3 in Kenya has been before the public for some

time. In the lead-up to the 2002 elections that marked the end of the 24-year regime of

Daniel Arap Moi, opposition politicians and civil society activists advocated for a Truth

and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address past human rights violations. After the

opposition’s victory, the new government appointed a Task Force in 2003 headed by

Prof. Makau Mutua to seek the public’s views on the formation of a TRC.4 The Task

Force recommended the formation of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

(TJRC) to investigate:

Ø political assassinations and killings

Ø Massacres and possible genocides

Ø Political violence and murder of democracy advocates

Ø Torture, exile, disappearances, detention and persecution of opponents

Ø Rape

Ø Politically instigated ethnic clashes and

Ø Violations of economic, social and cultural rights

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