Can Kenya end its love affair with Corruption?

January 16, 2019    0 comment


The Bandung Africa Project proposes an evening seminar and networking event to discuss the necessity of combatting corruption at every level of Kenyan society. The purpose is to examine the progress being made to implement the efforts to combat corruption in Kenya and the degree to which, if at all, the Pan African diaspora community can assist.

Introduction

The Bandung conference held at the Crown Plaza hotel on November 22nd and 23rd 2018 highlighted a number of concerns within the fight to combat corruption.

These are currently being addressed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, by the Kenyan Ethics and Anti–Corruption Commission, the Auditor General and by a plethora of regulatory authorities.

The necessity of having a National Debate on the reform of the Criminal Justice System, especially to address anti-corruption and anti terrorism has been highlighted by the 20th meeting of the National Council for the Administration of Justice, held in Navaisha that resulted in a statement on February 7th 2019, which stated,

“There will be enhanced capacity building among institutions through training on cross-cutting issues affecting the administration of justice.”

The NCAJ detailed a number of initiatives including,

  • New approaches to the administration of justice shall be adopted, such as the integration of plea bargaining in criminal justice in order to expedite the conclusion of cases.
  • We shall endeavor to leverage on the use of technology in the whole justice sector, from investigations, prosecution and judicial processes. This will include, where necessary, prompting legislative changes to allow evidence from non-traditional sources such as CCTV.
  • In order to improve governance and enrich citizen faith in the criminal justice system, members agreed to improve transparency and accountability in their individual systems and procedures.
  • In order to eliminate bottlenecks in the fight against corruption, the Council resolved to set up a committee to identify key challenges and make proposals that will engender greater efficiencies.

The Bandung Conference recommendations have already highlighted a number of reforms such as the introduction of suspended sentences, electronic tagging of offenders on remand to reduce the prison population, the use of part time Judges and Magistrates to clear the back log of cases and the adoption of alternative dispute resolution. The resources freed from a Justice system disproportionality targeting the poor and vulnerable would more easily address corruption, serious offences, particularly sexual offences, and offences of terrorism and violent extremism.

The Auditor General, the Honourable Edward Ouko, Esquire was quoted in June 2018 by Reuters as saying,

“High-level corruption across all levels of government in Kenya threatens the integrity and basic functioning of the state”. The Kenyan media have reported on dozens of graft scandals involving public officers conspiring to steal from state coffers since President Uhuru Kenyatta took office in 2013. Some officials have been tried, but none have been convicted. If we don’t watch out, it will engulf us,” Edward Ouko told Reuters in an interview, describing the level of graft as shocking.  His audits suggest that collusion by civil servants and other officials to steal billions of Kenyan shillings annually is coordinated at a high level, he said.

He expressed frustration that the recommendations he made in 2014 for reforming that system were ignored by parliament and never implemented.

“It makes me angry that the weaknesses which we had revealed about IFMIS’ potential abuses were not acted upon,” Ouko said, using the acronym for the government’s payments system, the Integrated Management Information System. Kenya is currently being roiled by a new spate of scandals involving bogus tenders and suppliers that allegedly resulted in the theft of hundreds of millions of shillings by state officials from several government bodies.

Dozens of officials and business people are in custody over theft at one agency, the National Youth Service, which aims to train young people and help create jobs.

These two National Debates are designed to widen that discussion and highlight the urgent reforms that should assist the implementation of key changes. The idea is to engage with the Pan African Legal and Judicial Diaspora community as a resource that can be utilized to act as a catalyst to help tackle corruption at all levels.

The key stakeholders that will be consulted are the existing supporters of the Bandung Conference namely, The Law Society of Kenya; The Solicitor General of Kenya; The National Kenya Police Force; The Chief Justice and members of the Senior Judiciary; the Solicitor General; the Auditor General; Strathmore University; Kenya law School, The Kenyan Diaspora Alliance, The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, and the U.S. Embassy, the U.K., Canadian and Australian High Commissioner, and leading NGO’s  such as the Kenyan Human Rights Commission.

Aims and Objectives of the Seminar debates

  • To highlight and reinforce the reforms recommended in the 2014 Audit;
  • To engage stakeholders to ensure those reforms are implemented;
  • To utilize the resources and experience of the Pan African Diaspora legal and Judicial community;
  • To share good practice throughout Kenya and the East African region;
  • To ensure effective strategies to combat terrorism and corruption.

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