Kenya truth report: Killings, graft

2013-05-22 22:15
Kenya's Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition politician William Ruto (AFP)

Kenya's Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition politician William Ruto (AFP)

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Nairobi - Kenya's president received a long-awaited Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report that names the president and his deputy as being among those suspected of planning and financing Kenya's 2007-08 post election violence in which more than 1 000 people died and 600 000 were evicted from their homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto already face trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity charges related to the election violence, but local attempts to prosecute the two have never taken off. The commission does not recommend prosecution for the two, saying they are already to face ICC action.

Kenyatta's family members, especially his father, founding President Jomo Kenyatta, are named in the report as having presided over a government responsible for numerous human rights violations and illegal allocation of land.

The government-funded report, years in the making and released late on Tuesday, finds that Kenya's second and third presidents, Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, headed governments that were responsible for massacres, economic crimes and grand corruption, among other violations.

Kenya's state security agencies, particularly the police and army, have been the main perpetrators of human rights violations, including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence, the report said.

The commission said that during the period it was mandated to investigate - from 12 Dec, 1963 to February 2008 - the state adopted economic and other policies that resulted in the economic marginalization of five key regions in the country.

Women, girls and minority groups have been the subject of state-sanctioned, systematic discrimination in all spheres of their life, the commission said. And despite the special status accorded to children in Kenyan society, they have been subjected to atrocities including killings, physical assault and sexual violence.

The report recommended that parliament sets up a legal infrastructure to help victims of historical injustices get reparations, including financial compensation, public apologies and memorialisation.

Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was formed from a wider effort to establish the truth behind historical violations that are partly blamed for the 2007-08 post election violence sparked off by a dispute over who won the December 2007 presidential election.

Ethnic tension

A 2008 government commission found historical injustices such as unequal land distribution were partly responsible for the violence. The new report reinforced those findings, saying that historical grievances over land constitute the single most important driver of conflicts and ethnic tension in Kenya.

The issue of land in Kenya remains a divisive topic. Commissioners were split about changes made in the land chapter of the report before it was presented to the president.

University of Seattle Professor Ronald Slye, one of three international commissioners working for the Kenyan commission, told The Associated Press that he declined to sign the chapter because he did not approve of the changes. Judge Gertrude Chawatama from Zambia, another international commissioner, also did not sign the chapter on land.

Kenyan media reported that the commission had been under pressure from powerful individuals in and out of government to edit out sections of the report implicating certain people on illegal land allocations.

The report said that between 1964 and 1966 one-sixth of European settlers' lands that were intended for settlement of landless and land-scarce Africans was cheaply sold to President Jomo Kenyatta and his wife Ngina, his children, and others.

Jomo Kenyatta himself appears to have benefited immensely from irregular allocations of land that should have benefited those who lost land to Arab and British colonisers, the report said.

"President Kenyatta's direct engagement in irregular land allocations compromised his position to prevent or remedy similar cases of land grabbing by his close associates," the report said.

In 2011 Forbes magazine listed Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, as the wealthiest Kenyan, worth at least $500m, although he was dropped from a subsequent list because his personal wealth was hard to separate from his family's wealth.

Repression

The report said the elder Kenyatta, who held office from 1963 to 1978, ran a government that failed to remove the repressive state structures established by the British colonial government and used those laws to perpetrate human rights violations.

Human rights were further violated by the creation of the one-party state by the Moi administration, resulting in severe repression of political dissent, intimidation and control of the media, it said.

The commission report also blamed the media for allowing violations to occur with little public scrutiny.

Kibaki is accused of presiding over a regime that oversaw extra judicial killings.

Kenyatta, who received the report late on Tuesday, said the government will take the recommendations seriously. He said that addressing the causes and effects of past injustices will contribute to national unity, reconciliation and healing, and would enable Kenyans to move forward with a renewed sense of nationhood.

The commission, formed in August 2009, was supposed to take two years to complete its work. The commission said despite the challenges it managed to collect more than 40 000 statements, more than any other truth commission in the world.

- AP
Read more on:    uhuru kenyatta  |  william ruto  |  kenya  |  east africa
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