n African Human Rights Law Journal - Transitional justice in Kenya and the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth and Justice : where to from here?

Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



Transitional justice in Kenya responds predominantly to the two-month period of violence that devastated Kenya in the aftermath of disputed presidential elections in December 2007. Post-election violence left over 1 300 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced; many suffered abductions, illegal detentions, torture and ill-treatment, sexual violence and property rights violations. In this context, transitional justice endeavours to, among other objectives, bring accountability for human rights violations, promote victims' rights, and achieve national healing and reconciliation. The outcome of Kenya's 4 March 2013 general elections, with the election of Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Samoei Ruto as Kenya's President and Deputy-President respectively, raised the stakes for transitional justice in Kenya. Both Kenyatta and Ruto have been indicted by the International Criminal Court, accused of crimes against humanity. While Ruto's trial began on 10 September 2013, as this article goes to print there is some consternation as to whether Kenyatta will cooperate with the ICC. His trial is scheduled to begin on 12 November 2013. Significantly, on 29 September 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council, pursuant to Resolution 18/7, resolved to establish the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence. The Special Rapporteur is mandated to deal with situations in which there have been gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law; and to promote truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence in such contexts. This article considers the significance for Kenya of the Special Rapporteur's mandate, including the directive to, upon request, conduct country visits and provide technical assistance and advice on issues pertaining to the mandate. Given the hindrances to the effective implementation of transitional justice measures in Kenya, the article calls on the Special Rapporteur to issue a request to visit Kenya, in response to gross violations of human rights committed there.

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