Pardon looters, says Githongo

August 21, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, August 20 – Former Ethics Permanent Secretary John Githongo who returned to Kenya from three years of self exile in London late Tuesday, has proposed that perpetrators of economic crimes be given amnesty.

In a lecture organised by the Kenya Human Rights Commission at a Nairobi hotel on Wednesday, Githongo explained that the move would give the anti-graft war a big boost.

“There is need for amnesty for economic crimes and corruption, especially for those willing to make due redress and restitution to Kenyans that they have swindled wananchi (citizens), after public acknowledgement,” he said.

The former anti-corruption czar was of the opinion that Kenya had a lot of unfinished business resulting from previous corrupt dealings, which needed to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Githongo stated that unless these transactions are put to an end, they would continue to haunt the country over time and create suspicion among Kenyans, especially among the leaders, creating a paralysis in decision making processes.

“I am not talking about an amnesty that brings impunity,” he added.

The graft whistle blower stated that prolonged processes and committees would delay justice and make public accountability less likely, and added that this may impede the development of the country.

He said he was disappointed in the cooperation that foreign governments accorded to African countries as they deal with corruption.

Githongo however noted that the move for economic pardon ought to be properly monitored, lest it is abused.

His proposition was however met with sharp opposition from the civil society.

Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) Executive Director, Gladwell Otieno, dismissed the proposal and said that it was prone to abuse.

Otieno said that the issue of amnesty was a stroke of impunity that shouldn’t be condoned.

She also lashed out at the government’s ‘inappropriate’ move to institute commissions to look into irregular transactions; a move she thought was costly and circumvented justice.

“I don’t think this is the time for economic amnesty,” Otieno stressed.

The Executive Director said that as much as she believed it would be a right course of action in the long run, there ought to be a decisive action and nobody should be forgiven.

“Punishment is a difficult option, but I am not prepared to let it go,” she asserted.



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