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Kiai team for selective amnesty

Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 5/31/2008

A Government human rights watchdog has supported amnesty for perpetrators of minor post-election violence.

Such offences include blocking roads during protests, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Giving its position on the raging debate which has threatened to split the two-month-old grand coalition Government, the human rights body said those who wanted amnesty must first apply for consideration within a “legislative framework”.

Full disclosure

“To qualify for amnesty, alleged perpetrators must take full disclosure of the act for which they are applying for amnesty and tell the whole truth, which might lead to the arrest and prosecution of the financiers and planners of the violence,” commissioner Lawrence Mute, who read the KNCHR’s statement in Nairobi, said.

Mr Mute was accompanied by commissioner Fatuma Ibrahim, commission secretary Mburu Gitu and Mr Njonjo Mue, the principal human rights officer – campaigns and advocacy.

Mr Mute said before amnesty was granted, views of the victims should also be sought and taken into account.

The commission added: “Amnesty should apply across the country without discrimination and based purely on the type of crimes committed.”

While the mechanism for amnesty was being legislated, suspected perpetrators who are not facing charges of serious human rights violations, KNCHR said, should be bonded to keep peace.

The human rights body said no amnesty should be granted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture “and other serious violations of international humanitarian law”. It said this was what the Annan-brokered agreement stated.

Not  allowed

The commission said blanket amnesty should not be allowed as it would violate the rights of victims to life, property and protection as per the Constitution.

The agreement says no blanket amnesty would be provided for past crimes but that individual amnesty may be recommended “in exchange for full truth”.

The commission called for thorough investigations of politicians who incited the violence and the police who used excessive force “and all the culprits brought to justice without discrimination”.

The Maina Kiai-led watchdog demanded that police and prosecution authorities make public the exact number of people being held in custody, undergoing trial and those being investigated over post-election violence.

People detained without being charged, it added, should appear in court immediately or released.

KNCHR warned that violence must never be rewarded. While reconciliation was important, the rights body added, holding perpetrators to account was crucial to combat the culture of impunity.

Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua is also opposed to blanket amnesty to the youths.

On Friday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga  asked Kenyans to stay calm and not worry about different views expressed by Cabinet ministers on how to deal with youths arrested over the post- election violence.

 Lasting solution

The Government was working on a lasting solution to the controversial proposals on giving amnesty to those arrested in connection with post-election violence, said Mr Odinga.

He spoke a day after Internal Security minister George Saitoti said allowing amnesty would promote lawlessness and impunity.

Mr Odinga, who himself backs amnesty, said the ongoing debate among ministers over the issue was normal in a democracy and should not be construed to mean there were differences within the Government.

“There is only one Government and the statements you hear from ministers should not worry you,” he said.

Mr Odinga was speaking in Rongo  constituency during the burial ceremony of  Isaiah Marvin Otieno, the son of Public Service minister Dalmas Otieno, who was killed in a helicopter accident in Canada more than two weeks ago.

Reported by Lucas Barasa, Walter Menya and Elisha Otieno


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


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