Raila, Karua to push for law change to speed up graft cases

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua have said they will push for legal amendments for speedy trial of corruption cases as they look to win the war against graft.

The two pointed to lengthy court processes as an Achilles’ heel in the fight against corruption.

There are 469 corruption cases seeking to recover assets worth about Sh11.4 billion and most relate to recovery of public land, according to official records.

Speaking during a virtual diaspora rally on Sunday evening, Ms Karua intimated that the Azimio government would look into enacting a law to expedite hearing of corruption cases to bring to an end the circus of cases staying in courts for years.

“We need cases decided real time and culprits sent to jail and the innocent returning to their work. We will do certain necessary interventions to aid us in the war against corruption,” said Ms Karua.

“If need be, we will have legal amendments to ensure there is a Speedy Trials Act so that we stop the circus of corruption cases staying in our courts years upon years,” she added.

Ms Karua’s sentiments followed concerns by the diaspora community, which cited corruption as a major stumbling block in realising meaningful development in Kenya, with calls for speeding up of corruption cases.

The Narc-Kenya party leader said the government would work hand in hand with law enforcement and investigative agencies and the criminal justice system to have symmetry in the fight against corruption.

Ms Karua also urged the public to support the fight against corruption.

“In the fight against graft, we are going to need the support of the public. There cannot be a successful fight against corruption, when it is as aversive as it is in Kenya, without public support,” she said.

Public confidence

She cited a similar fight in 2002 during the early days of the Narc government, which was successful because the public worked with the government.

“In 2002, the fight by Narc government was aided by the public. You recall police officers being forced to return bribes by the public and the public choosing to walk rather than let matatus disobey Michuki rules. KICC was recovered by the public and returned to the government,” said Ms Karua.

The former Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister said Azimio was committed to fighting corruption and would demonstrate that commitment once the coalition takes the leadership of the country.

“Public confidence is brought by the utterances and body language of those in power. I want to commit that my principal and I are committed to the fight against corruption and we will demonstrate that commitment to inspire the public to rise up and support this fight,” she said.

At the same time, the diaspora community – with 10,433 registered voters – also appealed for partnership between them and the Kenyan Government, exploitation of the blue economy and appointment to government positions.

Reacting to the concerns, Mr Odinga said apart from the Lamu Port, the government will put up another port in Shimoni, Kwale County, as well as revive some of the ports, especially on Lake Victoria, that were active during the colonial days but have now become dormant.

Bandari College now has a faculty dealing with the blue economy and a marine institute to train seafarers will be opened in Kisumu in a bid to exploit Kenya’s blue economy potential, he said.

On appointment of Kenyans in the diaspora to government, the ODM party leader admitted there has been politicisation of diplomatic appointments, where nearly 50 per cent of the diplomats picked from non-professionals or political appointees. This had led to demoralisation of professional diplomats who have been bypassed.

“We are going to strike a balance to allow for certain percentage of our diplomats to be from outside the civil service but the bulk of them will be career diplomats who are people who have trained in that line of diplomacy,” said the former prime minister.

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