Sunday, February 21, 2010



TJRC chairman Mr Bethuel Kiplagat and his deputy Ms Betty Murungi consult at a past hearing. Three members of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission will not sit for ten days until issues surrounding the chairman, are resolved. Photo/FILE

February 20 2010

Three members of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission will not sit for ten days until issues surrounding the chairman, Mr Bethwel Kiplagat, are resolved.

The commissioners, who include vice-chairperson Betty Murungi, want the chairman to respond to issues raised by the public and civil society in ten days, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

“It cannot be business as usual,” one commissioner who cannot be named discussing fellow commissioners in the media said.

The commissioner said the Truth process was about integrity and transitional justice which should not be mired in controversy regarding the chairman of the commission.

Another commissioner told the Sunday Nation that Mr Kiplagat had pledged to make a response to all issues raised in 10 days. “The chairman promised to give specific responses to all issues raised,” the commissioner added.

Matters came to a head last Thursday when the commissioners met the chairman. Resistance to Mr Kiplagat’s stewardship is reported to come from Ms Murungi and three other commissioners – Ronald Slye, Gertrude Chawatama and Margaret Shava. The Truth commission and Mr Kiplagat have been on the spot since they attempted to have “listening” sittings in the Coast Province last month.

The team was met with protests and walkouts by the public who objected to Mr Kiplagat chairing the commission citing his record in the civil service and especially during retired President Moi’s tenure.

And the chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Prof Makau Mutua, last Wednesday added his voice to the calls to have Mr Kiplagat quit.

In a signed statement to the media and copied to Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo, Prof Mutua said they had confirmed through the Ndung’u Report that Mr Kiplagat was named on page 798 as having acquired public land in Lavington and also in Eldoret and Kileleshwa.

Prof Mutua further claims that Mr Kiplagat is named in the Parliamentary report on the inquiry into the murder of Dr Robert Ouko.

He said the human rights outfit was still verifying information allegedly linking the Truth team chairman to extradition of citizens in exile, the Wagalla massacre and Renamo activities.

Civil society activists led by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy chair, Ms Njeri Kabeberi, said that apart from pursuing legal means to stop Mr Kiplagat from chairing the commission, activists would opt for mass action.

To complicate matters for Mr Kiplagat, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru has set up a three-man bench to listen to a case filed by Kenyans Against Impunity lobby group who include former MPs Njeru Kathangu and Koigi wa Wamwere to hear the application for two days next month.

Some commissioners are now wondering whether Truth team should continue working while it awaits the hearing of the case filed against Mr Kiplagat by the lobby group.

And the Permanent Secretary for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Amina Abdalla has asked the commissioners to hold frank discussions on the way forward.
Sideshows are taking too much focus from the important mandate of this commission,” the PS said.

On Saturday, the commission seemed split down the middle with one group said to be sympathetic to Mr Kiplagat.


Submitted by Samur
Posted February 21, 2010 01:36 PM

For his integrity he should just quit.If public perception is the way it is,how will we get the truth of issues from him.Moi really spoiled the respect of many people who were close to him.Many of his Key operatives are the ones who impoverished life's of many Kenyans.

Submitted by jngundi
Posted February 21, 2010 01:36 AM

Frustrating as it might be, I think this turn of events gives a glimmer of hope. Things in Kenya will never be the same again; people are demanding that their voices be heard. For the commissioners, don't just be sympathetic or opposed to Kiplagat: be sympathetic to truth and fairness and opposed to injustice and impunity. It is about Kenya, not just you!