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Kenya

CJ Koome says courts will accelerate over 400 pending corruption cases

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13-The courts will give priority to the conclusion of over 400 pending corruption cases seeking recovery of assets worth Sh11 billion, Chief Justice Martha Koome has assured.

The CJ, who met officials of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Monday in her office, said her administration will pursue timely delivery of justice.

“I said judges must take individual responsibility with a proper case management system,” Justice Koome told the officials led by EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak.

The 469 cases pending in various courts in the country are seeking to recover assets worth approximately Sh11.4 billion and mostly relate to recovery of public land.

During an address to judges of the Environment and Land Court last week, the CJ said she would ensure that no case stays in a trial court beyond three years, or in the case of appellate courts, one year.

Justice Koome told the EACC officials that magistrates who were recently transferred from the Anti-Corruption Court will be allowed to finalise part-heard cases before moving to their new work stations.

She emphasised that courts must remain accountable and efficient to meet the aspirations of the Kenyan public.

During the meeting, the EACC officials informed the Chief Justice that some of the corruption cases have been in court for 15 years.

“When cases take too long in court witnesses die, some retire from public service and others can’t remember details and we end up losing the case,” the EACC’s Director of Field Services and Coordination Jackson Mue said.

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He explained that the EACC had finalised 273 cases with a conviction rate of 62 per cent between 2015 and 2020.

The commission was also able to recover assets in cash, movable and immovable amounting to Sh17 billion and averted a further loss of Sh38 billion through proactive investigations.

“Asset recovery is critical in creating deterrence and efficiency as the threshold required is on a balance of probability, unlike the criminal cases,” Mue said.

The EACC receives 3,500 complaints annually on corruption for action through its headquarters, 11 regional offices and service desks in 50 Huduma Centres across the country.

The EACC Chief Executive Officer called for greater collaboration with the Judiciary and asked the Chief Justice to operationalise anti-corruption registries in other towns.

“The current practice is that all anti-corruption related petitions and forfeiture of unexplained assets are filed with the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (ACEC) Registry in Nairobi” Mbarak said.

He proposed enhancing of partnership on corruption and promotion of integrity.

“This will involve development of an anti-corruption policy for the Judiciary, Constitution of a Corruption Prevention Committee to spearhead the corruption prevention/integrity agenda, corruption risk assessment and capacity building on corruption prevention,” he said.

The EACC has faced challenges in it work ranging from politicization and ethnicization of the war against corruption, inadequate enforcement mechanisms of Chapter 6 of the Constitution and slow judicial processes.

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