, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 – Envoys from the US and European Union countries have pledged to help Kenya recover stolen assets stashed abroad by corrupt officials.
The ambassadors and heads of mission from 11 countries stated that they are committed to help Kenya fight corruption at all levels of government, and will deny visas to officials implicated in corruption.
In a joint statement read on their behalf by US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, the envoys pointed out their concerned at the deep-rooted corruption reported in various sectors of government.
“We do have in place a presidential proclamation with regards to corruption which does make possible in circumstances that are very clearly spelled out that we do not issue visas if individuals are involved in graft or corruption, and we will adjudicate visa applications consistent with that policy and consistent with our overall law,” Godec said.
The American envoy stated that corruption threatens the country’s economic growth, the provision of government services, and security.
“As strong and committed international partners of Kenya, we share the concern of Kenyans at the ongoing problem of corruption. We agree with President Kenyatta that it deters investment and costs jobs. Corruption is undermining Kenya’s future,” he stated.
He was speaking following a meeting at Integrity Centre with Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission officials where he reiterated the need to strengthen a culture of integrity in Kenya.
“Broadly, we welcomed the steps President Kenyatta and the government have taken in recent months to address corruption. Commission officials outlined their efforts to address the corruption crisis and we discussed how the partners can further support these efforts,” he said.
He revealed that during the discussions, it was agreed that all allegations of corruption must be investigated.
“When evidence of corruption is found, those responsible must be prosecuted and, if guilty, appropriately punished – regardless of position or wealth. For our part, the international partners will continue to assist with investigations that involve our citizens or cross into our jurisdictions,” he stated.
He stressed that they are all committed to taking tough and swift action even when their own citizens are involved in activities that weaken the rule of law in Kenya.
“We are prepared to take further steps to support the Kenyan authorities, including, when permitted by law, the return of stolen assets to the Kenyan people or to impose travel restrictions on those responsible for graft,” he stated.
He explained that in the discussions, the international partners also urged the government to take further steps to empower the commission and other corruption-fighting agencies with the tools and resources needed to counter the scourge of corruption in a credible, effective, and sustained manner.
“Building integrity and a culture that prevents corruption must be a priority for Kenya’s leaders, but it is also the responsibility of every Kenyan. Government officials, opposition politicians, the judiciary, civil society, business, faith leaders, and citizens alike must make clear they will not tolerate corruption,” he said.
He also emphasised the need for all to take appropriate action to end graft and said that as international partners, they will work together with Kenyans to achieve this goal.
The envoys further said that unless corruption is eliminated, it will greatly affect the country’s economy and undermine the health, education and security sectors among others which are key in the country’s development.
“This (EACC) is an investigative body and we have a responsibility as international partners to ensure that our law enforcement bodies are supporting it,” the UK High Commissioner Christian Turner stated.
To put that in a slightly blunter way, people should not be allowed to enjoy the ill gotten gains of corruption in London, Geneva, New York or anywhere else and we have a responsibility to ensure that those assets are returned to their rightful owners, the Kenyan people,” he stressed.
He underscored the need for every mission to provide some assistance to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and other bodies in Kenya in the fight against graft.
“We are committed to the bold moves that President Kenyatta has set out to fight corruption and there is need for a systemic approach to getting rid of it,” he stated.