Slye appointed to Kenyan reconciliation commission

Professor Ronald Slye has been appointed to the newly formed Kenyan Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which will investigate human rights abuses that occurred in that country between 1963 and 2008. He will be on leave from his position at Seattle University School of Law for two years.

Slye, a globally recognized expert on the legal response to mass atrocities, was nominated to the commission by the African Union's Panel of Eminent Persons, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He will be the only non-African on the nine-member panel.

"This is a great honor and a tremendous opportunity," said Slye, who served as legal consultant to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1996 to 2000. "Having spent more than a decade studying transitional justice, I have seen the potential for the reconciliation process to bring accountability, unite a divided country, and heal the emotional wounds caused by years of violence."

Slye and the other commissioners will determine the priorities of the commission, including the scope of violations they will examine, the process by which individuals may testify before the Commission, the procedures that will be enacted to protect witnesses, the process by which they will recommend amnesty, and the process by which they will recommend prosecution.

The TJRC was established as part of a power-sharing agreement between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga as a way to end the violence that erupted after the disputed December 2007 elections. Because the root causes of the violence can be traced back to inequities in the division of land and resources at the country's founding, the TJRC's authority extends to crimes committed since Kenya's independence in 1963, up to the end of post-election violence in February 2008.

Kenyans will hold six of the nine seats on the TJRC. Those individuals will be chosen by President Mwai Kibaki from among a list of candidates submitted to him by Parliament. The remaining three members are non-Kenyans appointed by the Panel of Eminent Persons.

Since joining the law school in 1997, Slye has taught international human rights law and international criminal law and was director of the International and Comparative Law Program. He is an honorary professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is writing a book on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its amnesty process. He has authored two other books on international criminal law.

Sullivan Hall