DPP's office to be made independent in changes

Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Hajji. [File, Standard]

The Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) will soon be more independent if proposals in a Bill on changes to the Building Bridges Initiative are implemented.

The Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020 proposes the amendment of Chapter 15 of the Constitution to require constitutional commissions to enhance corporate governance practices in the management of the affairs of the commissions and independent offices and to include the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as an independent office.

"Clause 64 of the Bill proposes to amend Article 248 to add the Independent Policing Oversight Authority as a constitutional commission to which Chapter 15 of the Constitution applies. The amendment also includes the Director of Public Prosecutions as an independent office to enhance the independent and budgetary autonomy of the office,” reads the Bill.

Clause 31 of the Bill proposes to amend Article 157, which establishes the ODPP, to enhance the qualification for appointment as director to be the same as that of a judge of the Court of Appeal.

Further, Clause 32 of the Bill proposes to repeal Article 158 to align the removal and resignation of the DPP with that of constitutional commissions and independent offices.

Clause 9 of the Bill proposes to amend Article 80 on legislation on leadership to require Parliament to enact legislation establishing mechanisms to facilitate the expeditious investigation, prosecution and trial of cases relating to corruption and integrity, so as to achieve speedy disposal of such matters.

The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to amend the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, No 3 of 2003 and touches on matters such as enhanced penalties for economic crimes and corruption offences, and the procedures for hearings and sentencing on economic crimes and corruption matters.

It also provides for a duty to report any knowledge or suspicion of instances or acts of corruption or economic crimes, and makes it an offence to conceal corruption.

The Ethics and Integrity Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to make changes to various statutes relating to ethics and integrity, while the Leadership and Integrity Act (No 19 of 2012) proposes amendments to provide a detailed framework for dealing with public funds and personal wealth.

The Bill proposes to amend the Public Officer Ethics Act No 4 of 2003 to streamline the filing of wealth declarations by State and public officers while prohibiting them or their proxies from engaging in business with a public entity or engaging in the public collection of funds.

The BBI report also calls for the provision of a mechanism to allow for the more expeditious conduct of investigations, prosecution and trial of corruption-related matters.

If the proposed changes are adopted, they will be part of a larger reform package aimed at promoting accountability.