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Graft fight in jeopardy if Bills rushed

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 24 -Stakeholders in the anti corruption movement are expressing fears that the Ethics and Anti corruption Bill if passed in its current form will compromise the fight against corruption.

The Executive Director of Transparency International Samuel Kimeu who addressed journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday expressed fears that some of the provisions in the Bill were not deterrent enough to corrupt practices and the rush to beat deadlines may produce substandard legislation.

Among the issues Mr Kimeu raised was the lack of prosecutorial powers by the commission that he say would not enhance the fight against the vice.

“The back and forth between the prosecution and the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) has for long been a matter of successful concern for Kenyans, although there has never been consensus on this issue we expect the Director of Public Prosecutions to execute his mandate in the spirit  and letter of the Constitution,” he said.

Mr Kimeu urged parliamentarians – during amendments to the Bill – to protect the terms of the current employees of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission in the transition not compromise the fate of ongoing cases and investigations.

“Transition from the KACC to Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) ought to be cautiously handled not to interfere with the ongoing investigations and cases, and we must also be alive to the reality that some officers of the KACC may have abused their positions to benefit the corrupt,” he warned.

“The Bill must also be amended to ensure that the new commissioners shall subject employees to vetting before re-employment,” he added.

Mr Kimeu said that with the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission having part time commissioners, it needed not to have all the nine commissioners as proposed but that the number is reduced to five.

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“The proposal to have nine commissioners is not sound and the number should be reduced to five commissioners because they are par rile commissioners and only deal with policy issues,” he said.

Mr Kimeu who was accompanied by the Chairman of the Centre for Multi Party Democracy Justin Muturi and Gladwell Otieno of the Africa Centre for Open Governance, also proposed that amendments be effected on the Bill to provide for asset recovery and forfeiture of illegally acquired public property regardless of whether property has been transferred to third parties.

“The fight against corruption has been dealt a blow by lack of clear cut provisions on asset recovery and forfeiture under the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, corrupt individuals have adopted a tendency of transferring proceeds of their corrupt deed to third parties therefore defeating the attempt of recovery and forfeiture,” he said.

Ms Otieno called for the amendment of the clause on the access of information to make it conform to best practice.

She said: “The commission (Ethic and Anti Corruption Commission) must not be allowed to release the information it wants because around the world we are moving towards open government and we have constitutional provisions on access of government information.”

The Ethics and Anti corruption Bill passed its Second Reading in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon and next awaits the committee stage.

The trio also made the proposals to Kenyan parliamentarians who are members of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption.

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