n African Human Rights Law Journal - Exploring transitional justice as a vehicle for social and political transformation in Kenya




The eventful defeat of the Kenya African National Union political party in the 2002 general elections ushered in a new era for Kenya. With the change of regime an opportunity for transitional justice presented itself. A task force established by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs advised that there was a need for transitional justice. However, given the political differences among the political elite, this path of transitional justice proved not to be as easy as contemplated. The report and recommendations by the task force were shelved and the sentiments revived only in the aftermath of the December 2007 election violence. The period after the election violence witnessed the establishment of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee which became the avenue through which the government and the opposition discussed an agenda for power sharing as well as specific issues in need of reform. The KNDRC adopted various measures to deal with the country's political crisis. These included a review of the Constitution; the investigation of the root causes of the violence; the setting up of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission; the need to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence; and numerous institutional reforms. This article investigates the necessity and utility of the various ongoing transitional justice initiatives. In particular, the article undertakes an assessment of prosecution and non-prosecutorial mechanisms of transition as well as the constitutional review process. Other key issues arising from this discourse which the article attempts to address are whether Kenya is a society in transition, the influence of the volatile political context currently obtaining in Kenya on transitional justice efforts; and Kenya's legal obligations on the subject of transitional justice.


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