NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has strongly defended itself against accusations that it is lax in investigating cases involving high profile public officials.
Speaking during the opening of a workshop for prosecutors in East Africa, Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Dorcas Oduor said they had handled many high profiles cases and that all matters are thoroughly scrutinised and dealt with as stipulated in the Constitution.
“What would seem to the public as high profile cases or what would seem to the public as cases of interest are not necessarily cases of public interest. There is a difference. Our office has taken very seriously cases of high public officials and cases of high public interest but within the legislative framework,” she said.
She stated that more focus is placed on incidents like the ones that occurred during the post election violence.
“When investigations are pending in a case, it is not very easy or prudent to speak about them. You must appreciate that most of those cases (during the post-poll chaos) involved rape, violence, defilement and the protection of witnesses is one priority that the director takes very seriously,” she said.
She further emphasised that the DPP’s office operates independently without any undue external influence.
“The independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions is guaranteed by the Constitution and under the law, the director is independent in his discretion as to whether or not to prosecute,” she said. “That discretion is not influenced or affected by anybody. In order to be accountable, the directorate has opened up a public liaison office that will deal with complaints.”
She further stated that the DPP’s office is in the process of actively investigating over 5,000 post election violence cases.
She said that work is still ongoing and that prosecutions should end before the next general elections.
“We have been continuously been reviewing these cases and do not look at them in isolation. Look at all other criminal cases and the time that they take to go through the court process. So it is not an isolated case,” she outlined.
She however emphasised the need for the capacity of the DPP’s office to be enhanced so that it can be more effective in carrying out its mandate.
“The progress is that the government has acceded to our request to give us capacity and to assist the department’s taskforce that has been constituted to accelerate the directing of these cases because some are already pending in court, some are under investigations and some are awaiting appeal,” she said.
She urged the public to be patient as the office liaises with other agencies to complete the cases.
“The criminal process is a criminal process and the criminal process entails the directorate of public communications, other criminal justice agencies… it involves you, the public and even witnesses,” she explained.
“When all these people are working together, things are propelled and they happen faster but when you look at one office, it is not easy for you to see the bigger picture because we are just the cog in the wheel.”