Thursday, February 25, 2010



TJRC chairman B. Kiplagat wipes tears at the NTV newsroom during an interview after he was asked to shed light on the Ouko murder.

February 25 2010

Bethuel Kiplagat was under siege on Thursday after Archbishop Desmond Tutu led nine former heads of truth commissions across the world in calling for his resignation.

Asking him to step down as chair of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), the former heads and commissioners of past truth commissions cited two commissions of inquiry they said had raised serious questions on Mr Kiplagat’s involvement in injustices.

They referred to the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land released in 2004 (popular known as the Ndung'u Report) and that of the Parliamentary Select Committee of Inquiry into the murder of former foreign affairs minister Dr Robert Ouko.

The commissioners noted that the Ndung’u Report had made references to Mr Kiplagat’s alleged acquisition of public land illegally while the parliamentary committee which was chaired by former Kisumu Town East MP Eric Gor Sungu had concluded that the he was untruthful in his submissions.

“We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of bias and misconduct that have been made against Chairperson Kiplagat. The allegations about his role in the former Moi government have generated a widely held perception that he labours under an unavoidable conflict of interest and that he is unable to bring an impartial mind to bear on his important duties as TJRC Chairperson,” they noted.

The commissioners included Bishop Joseph Christian Humper, the former chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone and Salomon Lerner Febres, former chairperson of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Others who endorsed the statement included Alexander Lionel Boraine, the chairperson of the Mauritian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and former commissioners of the South African truth commission among them Dumisa Ntsebeza, Yasmin Sooka, Bongani Blessing Finca, Mary Burton, Richard Lyster and Fazel Randera.

Pressure has been mounting on Mr Kiplagat to resign with lobby groups and former political prisoners questioning his integrity.

The lobby groups, among them the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), the International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) and the Release Political Prisoners (RPP), have been urging the government to act on complaints levelled against Mr Kiplagat and remove him from the position.

The groups have also called upon donors not to fund the commission unless Mr Kiplagat quits.

The commission needs at least Sh3 billion to do its work within the next two years, part of which will be donated by development partners. Already, the Kiplagat-led team has been allocated Sh100 million from public coffers to be spent this financial year.

The commission was recently embarrassed when participants stormed out of one of its meetings in Mombasa demanding the resignation of the chairman.

Mr Kiplagat has defended his position, saying he has what it takes to deliver since he had played a major role in brokering peace in Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and other countries for many years.

Archbishop Tutu’s calls immediately drew support from the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) which noted that his continued stay in office compromised TJRC’s integrity.

"If the TJRC is to be effective, it has to be free of any taint of real or perceived bias and impropriety," said Suliman Baldo, Director of ICTJ's Africa Program. "To safeguard the commission’s work, we believe these international justice figures are exactly right in calling for the chairperson’s resignation."

On their part, the 10 former heads and commissioners noted that “disturbing findings” had been made in the past against Mr Kiplagat on matters expected to come before TJRC. “While Ambassador Kiplagat has disputed the references to him in these reports, they nonetheless have a direct and serious impact on public perceptions in relation to his fitness to hold high office in the Commission,” they noted.

"All truth commissioners must be seen to be upholding the highest standards of ethics and integrity. They need to be seen to be scrupulously independent and objective. We are constrained to point out that Ambassador Kiplagat does not meet these essential standards," they added.

They warned that TJRC would fail in its mandate if it was not seen to enjoy the confidence of Kenyans.

"Since objective grounds of a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Ambassador Kiplagat exist in the minds of the public, he is duty bound to resign for the greater good of the commission and country," the commissioners observed.


Submitted by njerujn
Posted February 25, 2010 03:49 PM

What is it with us Kenyans or is it Africans? Why can this mzee not read the writing on the wall. Must he be scourged lame before he considers stepping down? Amb. just step down. If the people you are trying to help feel that you can not help them, let it be. Leave the seat to someone else they can accept. You can not shove yourself down their throats when they are not willing. Can you?

Submitted by DujisDemocrat
Posted February 25, 2010 03:32 PM

What kenyans need to understand is that its not always about good cv and degrees from prominent universities and serving in local commissions.The most important thing is the integrity and the past history of the person in question because people dont change overnight and become someone else.Voters should also use the same criteria which no doubt will produce good leaders.

Submitted by kichwasafi
Posted February 25, 2010 02:06 PM

I was one of those willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt but now it seems the die is cast. Mzee Kip, pole, but you have to go now.

Submitted by abckris
Posted February 25, 2010 02:05 PM

Amb. Kiplagat knew his hands were tied once he was appointed to the commission but just kept on. I am sure he is aware of natural justice and conflict of interest do not go together. Excluding himself from the commission is the best thing, a foreign professional with no leanings might be the best option.

Submitted by jirani
Posted February 25, 2010 02:04 PM

Why do people in Kenya refuse to give up even when their names are mentioned endlessly in dirty deals? Kiplagat shouldn't lead TJRC and Bowry shouldn't be part of KACC.

Submitted by sniper33
Posted February 25, 2010 01:57 PM

Bethuel Kiplagat sir ,please save face and Kenya's precious time and quit, you should have done so before it came to this.

Submitted by kamaujm
Posted February 25, 2010 01:51 PM

Good that others have joined in calling for Kiplagat to resign. Majority of our problems continue because we aren't prepared to deal with our past. To have Kiplagat as head of TJRC will only make its work untenable. As Kiplagat goes so should Bowry for the Anti Corruption body.We aren't interested with whitewash.