BY SAMUEL KIMEU
Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo recently called for a lifestyle audit for junior police officers as a measure to combat graft in the National Police Service.
This is welcome. It is hoped that he and the National Police Service Commission will go a step further by instituting a framework for the audit.
Senior police officers should also be included, if the leadership hopes to bring about any meaningful change in the police force.
The vetting of senior police officers earlier this year demonstrated the need for such a lifestyle audit as it was evident that some of them had amassed unexplained and undeclared wealth.
The police department has topped all Transparency International Kenya’s bribery indices since 2001.
Complaints of corruption in the National Police Service have not dissipated despite the various efforts at police reforms.
The Public Officers Ethics Act requires all public officers and their families to declare their wealth by filing returns every two years.
However, the law has encountered much resistance from public officers.
The courts have stopped the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) from pursuing cases premised on unexplained wealth on the principle of protection against self-incrimination, reducing the wealth declaration system to a mere farce.
Despite the challenges that wealth declaration and lifestyle audit have faced in Kenya, they are still the most widely used approaches to preventing and detecting illicit wealth and corruption.
A well-defined asset declaration and lifestyle audit system is a strong tool to fight public sector corruption and abuse of power.
The Inspector-General and the National Police Service Commission should work with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to institute a legal process to verify public servants’ wealth.
We, at Transparency International Kenya, are ready to work with the National Police Service to ensure that the audit takes off as well as help the service to institute and strengthen an integrity system.
Political leadership is critical for the success of such an initiative. We hope that other public entities will support lifestyle auditing as a means to detect and prevent corruption in the public service.
The audit should be supported by a robust wealth declaration system to ensure routine and accurate asset disclosure.
The President should task the relevant government agencies with supporting the EACC in establishing an elaborate and effective wealth declaration system.
This system should generate baseline information against which future disclosures can be compared to identify illegitimate increase in wealth.
Civil servants with genuine sources of wealth can be protected from suspicion and allegations of misconduct or abuse of office.
Undeclared or unexplained wealth should also serve as a factor in deciding suitability for public office. Sanctions for non-compliance with declaration requirements must be severe. For this system to succeed, it has to enjoy maximum support from our leadership at the highest level.
(The writer is the Executive Director, Transparency International Kenya)