Establish an international court to boost fight against grand corruption

International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) could be a final recourse. [iStockphoto]

The fake fertiliser scandal, a grave threat to food security, has recently seized the Kenyan political stage. Farmers are left grappling with the unsettling prospect that government warehouses supplied them with counterfeit fertiliser.

This alarming situation has triggered a parliamentary inquiry and could potentially lead to the impeachment of the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture.

The list of grand corruption in Kenya is extensive, encompassing the misappropriation of Covid-19 funds, diversion of funds for dam construction, the National Youth Service, subsidised gold, security contracts, and the standard gauge railway, among others. The scale of corruption remains staggering. This form of grand corruption is typically a politico-administrative affair involving high-ranking public officials and other public or private actors.

Since the establishment of the 47 counties, devolved corruption has emerged as a new breeding ground for illicit activities. A stark example is the purchase of 10 wheelbarrows, each valued at Sh109,320. The failure and recent withdrawal of corruption prosecutions serve as a clear indication that we find it too challenging to combat corruption or lack the will to do so.

Meanwhile, extreme poverty and deprivation continue to afflict millions of Kenyans. In the past, Kenya has recognised corruption as a national security threat. We ostensibly established the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to combat and discourage it.

Nationally and globally, grand corruption does not endure due to a lack of anti-corruption laws. Yet, it is increasingly becoming apparent that corrupt senior government officials can commit crimes with impunity in their own countries because they control the police, prosecutors, and courts.

This challenge is widespread, particularly in nations with fragile institutions. Developing countries suffer significantly, losing over ten times more to illicit financial flows than they receive in foreign aid.

Corruption undermines democracy as kleptocrats suppress independent voices like journalists and civil society groups to conceal their wrongdoing. Those who bribe corrupt officials also fund unfair election campaigns.

The 2021 Pandora Papers exposed how illicit money hides wealth offshore through the global financial system with the help of international allies and frameworks. Acknowledging the far-reaching impact of grand corruption and its manipulation of the global financial system, a growing global movement spearheaded by Integrity Initiatives International and advocates such as Judge Mark Wolf is gaining traction in the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) as a final recourse.

The IACC would have the authority to prosecute Heads of State or Government, certain other high-level public officials, and anyone who knowingly and intentionally assists these individuals in committing crimes within the IACC’s jurisdiction.

These officials would not be immune from prosecution by the IACC, either during their tenure or after leaving office. The IACC would be a powerful tool in enforcing convention-mandated laws, focusing on criminalising bribery, embezzlement of public funds, misappropriation of public property, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

The IACC would enforce convention-mandated laws, focusing on criminalising bribery, embezzlement of public funds, misappropriation of public property, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.

To combat the use of the global financial system to transfer and conceal proceeds of corruption, the framework would have jurisdiction to prosecute both nationals of member states and foreign nationals who commit all or part of a crime within the IACC's jurisdiction, regardless of where the crime occurred within a member state's territory.