, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – Prosecutors in Kenya have expressed concerns over their security following the murder of Ugandan acting Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Kagezi.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko in his condolence message also urged the government to ensure that investigators and prosecutors, especially those handling sensitive cases, are protected.
“The demise of Ms Kagezi, the lead prosecutor in the Al Shabaab terrorist case in Uganda underscores the need for governments to urgently look into the security of prosecutors, investigators and judicial officers handling emerging and transnational organised crimes,” he said.
Tobiko who described the loss of Kagezi as tragic and a big blow to efforts made in fighting terrorism said it should be a wakeup call to governments especially those in East Africa to pay attention to the kind of security measures employed on officers involved in sensitive crimes.
“This incident has the potential of emboldening other organised criminal gangs keen on slowing down prosecutions which could paralyse the criminal justice system. To avert this, it is time decisive action is taken to ensure adequate protection is offered to prosecutors, investigators and judicial officers,” Tobiko opined.
Security sources in Kenya say only top level judicial, prosecution and investigation officers have drivers and bodyguards.
The DPP was of the view that officers dealing with transnational and organised crimes especially emerging crimes should be protected and accorded with measures that will insulate them from attacks such as the one meted on the Ugandan prosecutor.
Kenya is among the countries in East Africa handling cases of terrorism and other organised crimes including drugs and human trafficking. So far several high level cases of terrorism, drug trafficking and poaching are being heard in several courts across the country.
In Nairobi, the case in which over 67 people were killed during a terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall on September 2013 has been ongoing. In Mombasa several cases including the Mpeketoni attack that left over 60 people dead in a series of attacks by Al Shabaab is also before court.
A Mombasa court is also hearing a case involving ivory Kingpin Feisal Ali Mohammed.
Following the demise of Kagezi, fears were rife that lives of officers dealing with transnational and organised crimes were in danger.
Kagezi who was also the Head of the Prosecution Division of the International Crimes Division in Uganda was shot by suspected Al Shabaab assailants on Monday evening.
According to Ugandan reports, Kagezi was the top Ugandan state prosecutor in the trial of 13 men accused of a deadly al-Shabaab bomb attack in Kampala in 2010.
Seventy-six people were killed as they watched the football World Cup final. Last week, the US embassy in Uganda warned that Westerners including Americans may be targeted for “terrorist” attacks in Kampala.
Kagezi, the senior principal state attorney, also headed the directorate of public prosecution’s anti-terrorism and war crimes division.
Her death sent cold chills across the globe citing her rich expertise especially in the criminal justice system both locally and internationally. According to International Security Studies (ISS) Managing Director Andon du Plessis, Kagezi’s commitment to criminal justice is an indelible legacy that she will be remembered for.
‘We worked closely with Joan for many years. Her humble nature, confidence and selfless commitment to criminal justice will be an enduring contribution to Africa. Joan spearheaded the fight against terrorism and international crime in Uganda, and still found time to train fellow prosecutors across the continent,” he said.
A Kenyan delegation including Terrorism Prosecutor at Milimani Law Courts Duncan Ondimu, Head of the International Crimes Division, in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Lilian Obuo and Head of Counter Terrorism Division Edwin Okello were on their way to Uganda on Wednesday to attend Kagezi’s burial scheduled for Thursday in Kampala.
Okello described the death of Kagezi as tragic loss to the legal world.
“Having worked with Kagezi for close to five years, her gruesome death is devastating. It is sad and a huge loss to the legal profession,” he condoled.