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Mutula roots for death penalty for those found guilty of corruption

By | Published Fri, May 27th 2011 at 00:00, Updated January 1st 1970 at 03:00 GMT +3

By Steve Mkawale

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has proposed that those found guilty of corruption should be punished severely, including being sentenced to death.

Mutula said the punishment will serve as a great deterrent to those who intend to engage in theft of public assets.

He observed that countries like China have managed to eliminate corruption because of death penalty.

Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Mutula Kilonzo addresses the Press during a stakeholders’ workshop on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Bill, 2011 at PanAfric Hotel, Nairobi, Thursday. [PHOTO: Jonah Onyango/STANDARD]

"The Philippines have a similar penalty for plunder of public resources. It is high time Kenya comes up with more severe penalties for corruption, so that we make it a life and death affair," said the Minister.

Mutula made the remarks on Thursday when he opened a stakeholders’ forum on Ethics and Anti-Corruption Bill 2011 at the Sarova Panafric Hotel, Nairobi.

He observed that one of the reasons people engage in corruption is because the punishment prescribed does not befit the crime.

"I feel there is a need to increase fines and custodial sentences," said Kilonzo.

Prosecutorial powers

The anti-corruption Bill has already been crafted but stakeholders, including those in private sector, were supposed to improve on the final draft during the meeting.

After deliberations, the Bill that seeks to make the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) have prosecutorial powers will go for a round table discussion with the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice officials and the Constitution Implementation Committee (CIC), which will be the last stage before it goes to Parliament.

On Thursday, Mutula said the structure of the anti-corruption machinery in the country needs to be streamlined. " We are aware that currently there are a number of anti-corruption institutions each with different roles to play. These institutions have existed without much harmony. The resultant bickering has been a source of shame to us as a Government and as Kenyans," said the Minister.

He observed that lack of synergy in conducting investigations, gathering evidence and prosecution has led to the acquittal of suspects who evidently were guilty of corruption.

"I hope we will be able to come up with a lean structure that taps into the experience and expertise of various agencies," said Mutula.

The Minister further said the country needs more than Sh1billion to establish a world-class Witness Protection Agency. He said currently the Government has only been able to allocate Sh50million, which is not enough to protect witnesses.

Lost their livelihood

Mutula further observed that the biggest obstacle in fighting corruption in the country has been lack of evidence when matters were being prosecuted in courts.

"It has often been said that corruption fights back. Nobody knows the viciousness of the purveyors of corruption but witnesses and whistleblowers themselves. Many have lost their livelihood and their lives," said the Minister. Deputy Director of KACC Dr John Mutonyi said the Bill had a lot of input from various players but is still open to suggestions for the country to have a solid mechanism to fight graft.

He observed that over the past years, the public has been made to believe that those engaging in corruption were igneous individuals.

"We need to make the public realise that they are committing serious crimes that need to be punished," said Mutonyi. Present during the meeting was Mr Gichira Kibara, Dr Smokin Wanjala and Mr Kathurima M’Inoti, Chairman of the Kenya Law Review Commission.