NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – Concerns have been raised over serious under-funding by the Ministry of Finance to constitutional commissions and offices.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Independent Medico Legal Unit (IMLU) on Monday protested that the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) was seriously under-funded in the 2012/2013 budget.
IMLU Executive Director Peter Kiama told Capital FM News that the meagre allocation will frustrate the reform agenda of the ODPP which is now mandated by the new Constitution to operate autonomously.
“Enough money has to be provided to hire new professional and well trained prosecutors. We also hope that the number of prosecutors will go up so that the workload is not as much as it is now,” he asserted.
He complained that despite the acute shortage of prosecutors and support staff at the ODPP, the Treasury failed to allocate a reasonable amount of money that would at least help the office to work on its priority areas.
“The fact that the Treasury did not allocate the full funding (means) the reforms that Kenyans anticipated will not move as fast as we hoped, which is unfair,” he said.
Kiama said it was necessary that the ODPP is adequately funded to boost investigations currently placed in the hands of police prosecutors.
He expressed concerns that police prosecutors have been blamed for shoddy investigations leading to loss of many cases due to lack of professionalism and bias especially where police have to investigate fellow officers.
The ODPP has a deficit of Sh2.19 billion since only Sh1.087 was allocated to the ODPP for the year 2012/2013.
DPP Keriako Tobiko who expressed displeasure with the allocation complained that the Kenya Governance Justice Law Order Sector (GJLOS) has for many years been under-funded.
He asked for all the organs under GJLOS to be thought about holistically since they are intertwined in their work of fighting crime, addressing justice and governance.
“If one agency is under-funded and fails to perform, then the rest fail to perform. It is a chain link system. And the system is only as strong as its weakest link,” he said.
He added, “In our case we are expected to serve the Judiciary, the Police, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, we receive all the files, it is the prosecutors from the ODPP that prosecutes.”
LSK chairman Eric Mutua noted that though the Judiciary received most of its funding, its work would likewise be stalled since the two offices are co-related in the provision of justice.
“It is a big blow to the reforms. We will have magistrates to listen to cases and you find that you don’t have competent prosecutors to be prosecuting these cases, then the Judiciary will not perform,” he explained.
The Judiciary has an allocation of Sh15.4 billion against the Sh16 billion it had applied for.
Another big loser is the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which got only Sh100 million instead of the Sh700 million requested for it to lead the country in reconciliation and insulate it from violence especially as the country prepares for the general election.
NCIC chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia told Capital FM News that he was very disappointed with the budget since they will not be able to carry out the work of the commission as he expected.
“The money I need to comfortably do the commission’s work this year is about Sh700 million. Definitely this is going to affect my work very seriously,” he said.
The biggest loser was the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) which was allocated Sh17.5 billion against the Sh40 billion it requested.
According to Mutua, although the IEBC budget was seen as ‘exaggerated’ it is important for the Treasury to realise that the commission is charged with a big responsibility of managing the coming elections.
“If the IEBC doesn’t function well, we cannot have free and fair elections. If not the consequences can mean violence because people will question those results. I would actually take it serious when I see a body which wants to cut down considerably the budget of the IEBC,” he said.
The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution received Sh110 million while the Human Rights and Equality Commission got Sh17 million.