Financial investigations, international cooperation, whistleblower protection, and public procurement have been identified as priority areas in combating corruption in Africa.
Delegates from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda attending a high level anti-corruption summit in Nairobi have identified the areas as necessary for intervention in the war against graft.
The delegates have also commended Kenya’s Witness Protection Act and its Witness Protection Program as best practices to be emulated by African and Asian countries, a recognition of effective domestic solutions on corruption that measure up to international standards.
This was observed during the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Workshop on fast-tracking the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption where United Nations member states were urged to strengthen both human and financial resources towards the realization of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063.
Speaking at the summit in Nairobi on Thursday, Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai reiterated the government’s commitment to fulfill all the appropriate legal, policy and institutional reforms necessary in combating corruption.
“As a government we are doing this not only because we are under a constitutional obligation to implement our international obligations but more significantly because it is in our best interests that we implement our international obligations, if we expect other countries to reciprocate to our demands for international co-operation,” the Attorney General stated.
“Corruption in Kenya and in the African Region is contributing to the undermining of social and economic development; threatening infrastructure investment and foreign direct investments; compromising public trust in the rule of law and criminal justice systems, while reducing a country’s creditworthiness in the international financial market,” he said.
Professor Muigai also called for the strengthening of mechanisms for international co-operation, especially with regard to law enforcement, mutual legal assistance, mutual assistance, extradition, and asset recovery.
He said the fight against corruption or crime generally was anchored in various bilateral or multilateral arrangements and was aimed at ensuring that corrupt persons did not have safe havens to hide.
The UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally-binding universal anti-corruption instrument that seeks to fight corruption through four strategic thematic areas of Prevention; Criminalization and Law Enforcement; International Co-operation, and Asset Recovery.
UNCAC has now attained near-universal ratification, following its ratification or accession by up to 180 Parties. Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) adopted in September, 2015, additionally emphasizes the adoption of good governance and anti-corruption practices.
The Summit has further observed that the adoption of UNCAC, and other regional anti-corruption instruments, such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, demonstrated that there was global consensus on the need to prevent and combat corruption.
UN Member states during the 3rd Session of the UNCAC Conference of States Parties held in Doha, Qatar, in November, 2009, adopted the UNCAC implementation review mechanism that is designed to assist states to implement their UNCAC obligations in a manner that respects state sovereignty while also identifying implementation gaps and technical assistance needs.
Kenya is expected to start its second cycle review in July, 2017. This follows the successful review between 2013- 2015 period where issues on Criminalization & Law Enforcement, and International Co-operation were emphasized as critical for the country in addressing its corruption challenges.
Githu explained that Kenya’s decision to publish its Report was evidence of the Government’s openness and readiness to dialogue with all stakeholders towards the implementation of the Report.
In March 2016, Kenya identified key recommendations for adoption such as the need to criminalize corruption in the private sector; criminalization of illicit enrichment and influence peddling, as well as developing laws to facilitate deployment of special investigative techniques.
Legislation in place includes the Bribery Act, 2016, and the Draft Anti-Corruption Laws Amendments Bill, 2017, and the Whistleblower Protection Bill, 2017.
The Government is also implementing the Report of the Task Force on the Review of the Legal, Policy and Institutional Framework for Fighting Corruption in Kenya (2015). It is also reviewing the proposed National Ethics and Anti-Corruption Policy.
Recently, the Government launched the operation of the Integrated Public Complaints Referral Mechanism (IPCRM). This seeks to ensure that bodies that receive complaints relating to corruption and economic crimes act on them fast or refer them to appropriate law enforcement agencies for appropriate action.
The forum was also attended by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya Dr. John Murton, UN Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya Siddarth Chatterjee and several development partners.