Civil Society and Transitional Justice in Kenya

Chandra Lekha Sriram

In late 2007, Kenya held presidential elections, whose results were hotly contested, with allegations of fraud. Serious violence followed, some spontaneous, some pre-planned, and some retaliatory. An internationally-brokered agreement followed, creating a power-sharing arrangement between the presidential contestants and a commission of inquiry into the violence. Throughout the violence, civil society actors played a critical role, first monitoring the election, then recording the violence, and pressing for accountability measures. Numerous options for accountability were put on the table, including a hybrid tribunal. While a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission was created, its operations were flawed, though its report documents a significant range of abuses in the country dating to independence. Ultimately, as the prospects for a hybrid tribunal faded, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation, and civil society actors turned to it in the context of increasing governmental resistance to criminal accountability. As this resistance has increased, two of the original ICC accused were elected president and vice-president, space for civil society actors to push justice concerns has decreased. Those seeking to promote various forms of accountability have sought to adapt to not only government strategies, but also waning interests and shifting agendas of international actors.

CS and TJ working paper_Kenya

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