In the long term, have all-Kenyan prosecution
1 weeks ago, 01:17
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, has clearly demonstrated drive and conviction to deal with corruption.
Within a relatively short period, he has pushed many cases to the courts and showed that with determination, the fight against graft is manageable.
In his new push, the DPP has engaged an international lawyer to help with the prosecution of some high-profile cases that require a certain level of independence.
Similarly, he has announced plans to advertise for legal services to get private practising lawyers to join his prosecution team.
That is the way to go. The DPP’s office is depleted and requires strengthening. Even so, this must be discussed extensively.
For a start, there is a serious contractual problem at the office that leads to constant exits of prosecutors. And this is not new.
Most lawyers recruited to serve at the DPP’s office have complained of poor terms of service and slow career progression. Consequently, the office cannot attract and retain sufficient and well-qualified staff.
To this extent, the DPP ought to come up with a long-term scheme for compensating prosecutors well so as to attract and retain the best in the profession.
The second critical question is the sustainability of the outsourcing model. In the interim, it is justified because it can help to expedite prosecutions and disposal of the many cases pending before the courts.
But it is not convincing to argue that the country lacks competent and qualified lawyers to prosecute any of the cases.
Fighting corruption is costly and the government must be ready to spend on it.
But it is critical that the DPP tells the public what it would cost to retain and compensate those private lawyers being engaged to prosecute cases. We are talking about viability and sustainability.
Alongside that, we must observe the fundamentals of the law. The main reason why many corruption cases flounder is not the lack of prosecutors, but weak evidence arising from shoddy investigations.
And the tragedy is that when such cases flop, they embolden the corrupt to continue with their nefarious activities.
Therefore, the whole question of ending graft must be a wholesome undertaking that starts from investigations through the prosecution and, finally, judgment.
We acknowledge that the DPP is on the right track in the anti-graft campaign, but we caution that he should be methodical.
It may be prudent in the short run to outsource legal services but we need a long-term strategy to ensure an independent prosecuting office fully staffed with Kenyans and properly compensated and inspired to fight not only graft, but also all other crimes.
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