Let’s weaponise our criminal justice system

A statue outside Supreme Court, Nairobi during the ruling on BBI on Thursday, March 31 2022. [David Njaaga,Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto has often claimed that the criminal justice system has been weaponised against his allies.

He claims that the DCI, DPP, EACC, and KRA are being ‘weaponised’ by undisclosed persons or forces ostensibly to hurt his presidential ambitions.

But before I go further, we should not confuse the ‘politicisation’ and ‘weaponisation’ of the criminal justice system and use the two terms interchangeably.

While no one can defend the politicisation of the criminal justice system, the weaponisation of the same is to be encouraged and enhanced.

The old adage that “form follows function” ascribed to American architect Louis Henry Sullivan is true of the justice system as it is with the skyscrapers he designed decades ago.

The function of the criminal justice system is to deter, punish and correct offenders and its form must therefore be of a penal and punitive nature.

In other words, the criminal justice system (and all its arms, agencies and accoutrements) is a weapon meant to deter and punish criminal offenders. 

The only people who would wish that the criminal justice system did not have teeth to bite are the criminals themselves. Listening to the Deputy President one would be forgiven for thinking that the agencies have been ruthless in dealing with a certain section of the political class.

The average Kenyan knows that our criminal justice system has been emasculated and compromised in favour of the high and mighty.

Therefore, with all due respect to the DP, most Kenyans would like to see more heads roll in the political class irrespective of their political persuasion or association. 

This is because our criminal justice system has been impotent in dealing with crimes, corruption and conduct of well-heeled offenders.

Since independence, not a single perpetrator of any mega economic scandal or other serious crime including political assassinations, has been brought to book in Kenya.

Kenya would have been a different place if those behind Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing, NYS, Arror and Kimwarer, maize scandal and Kemsa rip off were put behind bars.

Kenya should indeed, weaponise and blindfold the justice system to ensure it applies equally to all without regard for one’s economic or political influence.

Still, the criminal justice system should not be a weapon that can be deployed against political opponents.  It should serve all Kenyans equally and fairly.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of [email protected]