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Kenyan truth panel urges president to apologise for abuses

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Kenya's reconciliation commission has said the president, security forces and judiciary should publicly apologise for past abuses going back 50 years, its final report seen Wednesday said.

Set up after bloody post-election violence in 2007-08, Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) handed over its weighty four-volume report -- containing tens of thousands of testimonies gathered over four years detailing rights abuses the abuse of rights in the country -- to President Uhuru Kenyatta late Tuesday.

Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto are named in the report for allegedly planning and financing violence during the post-election unrest, although the commission recommends no action be taken against them as they are awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court on similar charges.

It recommended that the president "offer a public and unconditional apology to the people of Kenya for all injustices and gross violations of human rights committed" during its period of investigation, from independence in 1963 until 2008.

Kenya's police, army and intelligence services should also apologise "for gross violations of human rights committed by their predecessor agencies", the panel said, noting that the security forces have been the "main perpetrators" of "violations of human rights in Kenya including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, and sexual violence."

It said Kenya should also consider seeking compensation from former colonial rulers Britain for the "victims of atrocities and injustices", and said London should also offer a public apology.

Kenyatta and Ruto are among nearly 200 individuals or organisations listed as having been singled out by witnesses interviewed by the commission for alleged rights abuses.

Najib Balala, the newly appointed mining minister, is also named for "inciting and funding violence", as well as former radio presenter and ICC indictee Joshua arap Sang.

It is up to parliament -- where Kenyatta's party has the majority -- to take the next step.

"The government will take the recommendations of the report seriously," the presidency said in a statement late Tuesday.

"Addressing the causes and effects of past injustices will contribute towards national unity, reconciliation and healing," it added.

Beyond calling for public apologies the report made few concrete recommendations.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130522/kenyan-truth-panel-urges-president-apologise-abuses