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ODPP opposes bid to strip it of powers to appoint public prosecutors

By Moses Nyamori | October 11th 2021

DPP Noordin Haji (left) and DCI Director George Kinoti. [File, Standard]

Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) has opposed a draft legislative proposal that seeks to strip it of powers to appoint public prosecutors.

The draft wants the powers to be vested in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

ODPP said the proposed amendment risks taking away the independence of the prosecutorial framework.

In a tweet, the office said that ODPP and DCI have distinct roles of prosecution and investigation respectively.

The officer under DPP Noordin Haji said that it has never sought to be handed investigative powers since they are rightly under the DCI docket.

“The ODPP believes that separation of prosecution and investigation powers provides a checks and balance in the system and enables accountability of decision making. It is for this reason, the ODPP has never sought to be equipped with investigative powers,” said ODPP in a tweet.

“Any attempt to amend laws to take away the independence of the prosecutorial framework should be vehemently opposed for its unconstitutionality,” the office added.

The ODPP further assured its commitment to work with all actors in the criminal justice system.

The office made the remarks even as it emerged yesterday that Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi has since written to the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi seeking to withdraw the draft proposal.

“Reference is made to my letter dated September 29, 2021, to your office on a proposal to amend the ODPP Act, 2013, I hereby write to withdraw the proposed legislation to allow further consultation,” states the letter dated October 7.

The draft proposal argues that ODPP has lost many cases due to lack of competent prosecutors in certain technical areas.

The lawmaker wants the ODPP Act, 2013 amended to effect the changes.

“For instance, officers at the DCI are trained in cybercrime, forensics, ballistics, scenes of crime analysis, scene of crime reconstruction, homicide, land fraud etc which have been a challenge for some of the ODPP prosecutors when handling matters from the DCI,” states the proposal.

“These DCI investigators have been trained locally and internationally in their fields of specialisation. Moreover, the DCI has a number of advocates of the High Court who are also trained in investigations,” it adds.

The draft states that in the interest of justice, Parliament ought to stamp its authority and demand that all the laws that it has passed giving prosecutorial powers and which have been quashed by one act should be amended to revert the powers back to the various entities.

It states that the ODPP Act, 2013 gave all the prosecutorial powers to one body which has been unable to provide the much-needed service.

The draft further seeks to have Parliament retain the powers of prosecution with the various entities.

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