Reparations NOW: Highlighting the Right to Truth
On 24th March 2018, the world marked International Day for the Right to Truth concerning gross human rights violations and for the dignity of victims. Civil society organizations under the umbrella network of the Kenya Transitional Justice Network (KTJN), together with the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, the Attorney General’s office and development partners convened together with victims and survivors of past human rights violations in Kenya post independence to date.
The day provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to promote national dialogue on the reparations agenda and draw the society to the truth behind human rights violations that have been committed over the years and what Kenyans need to do as a nation to promote, protect and fulfill human rights.
The right to the truth here in Kenya is primarily enshrined through Article 35 of the Constitution on access to information. Other critical articles include Article 47 on fair administrative action, Article 49 on the right of arrested persons and Article 50 on fair hearing. The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report (TJRC) remains one of the most decisive efforts in achieving the right to truth. Through the TJRC Report, the right to the truth has been invoked in light of the thousands of cases of extra judicial executions, the hundreds of enforced disappearances, victims of torture who remain unrepaired in places like Mount Elgon in Western Kenya, victims of sexual violence from various epochs particularly at the hands of security forces.
The right to the truth implies knowing the full and complete truth as to events that transpired, their specific circumstances, the identities of those who participated (and directed), knowing the circumstances those violations took place and why? To understand this, one only has to look at the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report (TJRC Report) Volume 2A pages 221 to 366, in a bid to uncover the truth.
Unfortunately, many of the victims and survivors of gross human rights violations do not know the truth behind the violations done to them. Over 1,000 women who were raped in the 2007/2008 post election violence period and subsequent general elections by state security officers are among the many survivors seeking justice and compensation against these sexual violations.
In 2017, KTJN through the leadership of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) presented a policy proposal for reparations of historical injustices to the Office of the Attorney General. The policy proposal provides a theoretical framework and guidelines for operationalization of the Reparations for Historical Injustices Fund subsequently established by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his March, 2015 State of the Nation Address.
The purpose of the Reparations for Historical Injustice Fund is to be the institutional framework for implementation of a program that provides reparations to victims of human rights violations committed or condoned by the State between 12th December 1963 and 28th February 2008. The funds will also help in restoring the dignity of victims through acknowledging the wrongdoing, the harm suffered and the state responsibility to promote, protect and fulfill human rights.
The main objective of the policy is to guide implementation of a comprehensive reparations program that provides adequate, effective, accessible and prompt reparation that is; to the greatest extent possible, proportional to the gravity of the violation and the harm suffered, while integrating existing structures and programs to ensure efficient, transparent and accountable delivery of services to victims and the broader Kenyan public.
Implement the reparations fund…
Survivors of past human rights violations are therefore, urging the government to fast track the adoption and implementation of the reparations fund. Implementation of the fund will assist in alleviating the pain and suffering the survivors have endured over the years.
AGCP- Kituo Cha Sheria.