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EU barks against graft in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 26 – The European Union (EU) has threatened to cut off support and funding to Kenya unless grand corruption is prosecuted.

In a letter to President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Attorney General Amos Wako the EU said on Friday that real action against corruption must be taken to send a signal to the public that something was indeed being done.

“Prosecutions and convictions for corruption, particularly of so called ‘big fish’, would do much to change the perception of corruption in Kenya, deal a big blow to impunity and encourage the Kenyan public to play their part in rejecting corruption,” the letter read.

They said corruption has already damaged investor confidence, stifled development and created an unsafe environment.

“Corruption increases crime and seriously threatens security in Kenya and abroad, providing an attractive environment for terrorists, drug traffickers, money launderers,” they continued.

The 20 diplomatic missions want Kenya to adhere to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and address issues identified there including: putting in place an advanced asset recovery program and an independent forensic audit into the national budgets since 2006.

In Kenya’s 2009 UNCAC Gap analysis, the country identified issues including weak legislation and institutions as areas challenging its resolve to fight poor governance.

But since 2009, many of the issues identified in the analysis have been put in place; not only does Kenya have an anti- corruption policy, there exist laws on the same complete with watchdog institutions.

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While more could be done in legislating against graft in areas to cover emerging dark zones such as cyber crime, a Witness Protection Act is in place and awaits amendments to strengthen it further.

The EU, in its letter, says it has helped Kenya fight fraud in a myriad of ways including support to the Public Sector Reform Programme, capacity building at the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and strengthening civil society.

But one area the government may prefer support would be if these countries helped the repatriation of looted funds that are traced to banks in their countries.

In 2007, the then Justice Minister Martha Karua lashed out at the West for the proverbial ‘talking the talk’ but not ‘walking the walk’ when it came to fighting graft.

“They are silent on the repatriation of funds siphoned out of developing countries and stashed in their countries,” she said at the Commonwealth Law Conference in Nairobi.

Nothing’s changed since 2007.

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