Monday, August 3, 2009

Economic Issues, Land and Transitional Justice

Unlike the majority of previous Truth Commissions around the world, the Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC)has an express economic mandate. Other thna investigating civil and political rights (torture, assassination's, arbitrary detention among others), it is required to inquire into grand corruption, land distribution and other 'historical injustices', understood to include among others, various forms of economic marginalization.

Although including economic issues in the TJRC's mandate is problematic (I address this in a future posting), there is a sense in which including such issues is not only logical, but also necessary.The narrative of grand corruption, economic crimes and economic marginalization resonates in impunity debates in Kenya.

In an excellent piece, Chris Huggins, a specialist in conflicts over land and natural resources, particularly in Africa, considers the explosive land question - identified by many as one of the root causes of conflict in Kenya - within the broader transitional justice debate.

1 comment:

  1. Addressing political impunity related to economic issues is very much within a TJRC's process. However, I believe that addressing the real economic issues that were affected due to the bad politics that are subject to the TJRC is what is new to to the TJRC process. Whether the TJRC has a mandate and capacity (due to the length, capacity and complexity of issues involved)is another debate altogether.
    For instance, and as you rightly observed above, the South Africa's TJRC never touched on issues of economic inequality in the society and yet this is an issue that is central to a society in transition.
    It is only necessary that economic issues are included in the TJRC process, but it will call for a sustained political will and wide support by critical sectors of the government and society coupled with the spirit of self-sacrifice by government and the populace, for the sake of acheiving a future that respects the rights and dignity of every person.
    The TJRC may not go the whole way in ensuring that all economic issues are addressed in the transitional society, but should at least, give a bold indication of the critical issues that a transitional society should begin to address.