Friday, September 10, 2010



Daily Nation

Jacob Ngetich

Nairobi — The leadership crisis at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) deepened on Monday when commissioners stripped chairperson Florence Jaoko of all her powers.

The move follows Ms Jaoko's refusal to step down after seven of the eight commissioners last week passed a vote of no confidence in her.

The commissioners also formed a three-member committee that includes Mr Lawrence Mute to take up the role of chairperson. They will announce the changes on Tuesday.

A source who attended the meeting at KNCHR offices on Lenana Road said Ms Jaoko would now not be required to play her oversight role at the commission.

"We have moved on and reorganised the commission... We sat and agreed on new operation proposals. Tomorrow, we will make them known to staff," a commissioner who asked not to be named said.

The commission is an independent national human rights institution whose core mandate is to further the protection and promotion of basic rights in Kenya.

It comprises Ms Jaoko, Mr Hassan Omar, Ms Wambui Kimathi, Ms Winfred Lichuma, Mr Samuel Tororei, Ms Fatuma Ibrahim, Mr Mute, Ms Fatuma Dullo, Ms Anne Ngugi and Mr Mohamed Hallo.

Only Mr Tororei supported Ms Jaoko when the commissioners voted against her.

Rows at the institution started in May when the commissioners asked Ms Jaoko to step down, saying they were dissatisfied with her leadership.

They said the commission's profile had fallen since former chairman Maina Kiai left and it needed urgent intervention to rebuilt the image.

They doubted if Ms Jaoko was up to the task. Ms Jaoko argued she had not been treated fairly by the commissioners and would not resign.

The commissioners later asked her not to swear as chairperson when they took a fresh oath of office after the new laws came into force.

Ms Jaoko, sources said, however went ahead and was sworn in as chairperson, effectively blocking efforts to replace her.

The commissioners then met and passed a vote of no confidence in her, but she stood her ground.

Efforts to reach Ms Jaoko for comment on Monday were futile as her mobile phone went unanswered.

Divisions in the commission came to the fore early in the year when it emerged that one of them was leaking vital witness protection information to politicians.

Internal documents seen by the Nation and interviews with staff indicated that some commissioners, led by Ms Jaoko, were pushing for disciplinary measures against Omar for being vocal and issuing statements to the press without the chairperson's knowledge.Prior to this, there had been claims of rivalry between Ms Jaoko and her then deputy, Mr Omar, who was accused of hogging the limelight at the expense of the chair.

However, Mr Omar pre-empted the move by resigning as deputy chairman.

Sources said tension has been rising since July last year when KNCHR released a list of 219 suspects linked to the 2008 post-election violence where an estimated 1,133 people were killed, and 600,000 displaced.