SECTIONS

DPP Haji warns Kenyans against committing election offences

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji speaking on Kamworor dam on 20th July 2022. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government has put in place a mechanism to punish those who commit election-related offences, Director of Public Prosecutions Nurdin Haji has said even as the country goes to the polls in 12 days.

Haji, who spoke in Mombasa on Thursday when he opened a training on prosecution of election offences and hate speech, said: "Kenyans must be warned against committing offences against anybody during this electioneering period because the law will catch up with them."

"We have already put in place plans to apprehend and charge criminal elements who want to take advantage of the elections to cause problems. No one should think they will engage in criminal acts and escape punishment. They will be shocked as we will apprehend and prosecute them," said Haji.

Haji cited parts of Nakuru County where cases of violence, especially against female candidates, have been reported in the recent past.

"We are training investigators and prosecutors, arming them with the necessary skills to handle such cases," said the DPP.

He said: "The government has developed a Rapid Reference Guide on the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence to provide an easily accessible resource for prosecutors to facilitate an expeditious and efficient prosecution of such cases."

Haji called on all stakeholders, including those in the security sector, to work together to ensure promptly responses to cases of sexual and gender-based violence saying this will protect women and children and enable them enjoy their rights during and after the elections.

The DPP, who was flanked by Mr Nyale Munga, the principal assistant to the Inspector General of Police, and the National Cohesion and Integrity Commission vice chairman Wambui Nyutu, called on the public to expose any criminal elements in their midst.

"We have been relentless in bolstering our joint responsibility to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process even as we draw closer to the General Election. And there is evidence to this. As the DPP, I remain committed to upholding the rule of law and discharging my mandate with impartiality even as I wish all Kenyans a free, fair, credible and peaceful election," said Haji.

Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) chairperson Anne Makori warned the police against taking illegal orders from anybody.

"Police officers who will be found on the wrong side of the law will take individual responsibility for their actions. Elections in Kenya are always emotive. That is why I am urging the police to take their work seriously and avoid getting involved in activities that are against the law," Ms Makori said.

Makori asked police officers to be on the look out for those using online platforms to promote crime such as incitement, abuse of minors, hate speech and human rights violations.

She said IPOA has a plan in place to monitor how police officers will conduct themselves and offer services during this season. "We are doing this with the help of ODPP as critical stakeholder in the management of investigations."

"We are therefore happy because of the efforts stakeholders to ensure cases of crime, brutality, and human rights abuses, among other offences that emerge during electioneering period are decisively dealt with," said Makori.