Lack of political will is the biggest impediment to effective prosecution in most East African Community member states and their neighbours, Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Dr. Fred Matiang’i has said.
Matiang’i on Wednesday said prosecution institutions have not been adequately resourced making their work hard.
“I am concerned about this because I know the prosecution agencies are some of the agencies that have either been neglected or poorly funded over time,” said Dr. Matiang’i.
Speaking during the opening of a symposium of East Africa Association of Prosecutors (EAAP) in South Coast Kwale County, the CS said governments in the region should think about putting more resources in the prosecution agencies.
This he said will help them to effectively fight organized transnational crimes.
Public prosecutors from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, Djibouti, Mozambique and Zambia among others are attending the forum.
Dr. Matiang’i said the region will also not succeed in fighting transnational organized crime if the member states did not cooperate and share resources and information.
“Now is the time to build strong institutional and national partnerships and build interdependent relationships amongst our institutions to confront transnational crime,” the CS said.
He called on prosecutors across the region to develop a culture of cooperation and intelligence sharing so as to make their work easier and more effective.
The CS said this cooperation can also be in terms of pooling resources together.
He said it is not possible to fight transnational organized crime with individual countries each having their own budget to fight shadowy entities that have pooled its resources together and sees the region as one big hunting ground.
On his part Attorney General (AG) Paul Kihara said EAC member states must fight corruption, which he said plays into the hands of the organized criminal groups, which engage in money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking, wildlife trafficking, trophy hunting, drugs trafficking, among other forms of transnational crime.
“Corruption has and continues to impact negatively on the stability of our economies and our security,” said Kihara.
He said it is this instability that creates a conducive environment for transactional organized crime to thrive.
East African Community CS Adan Mohamed said the existence of black markets in the region drives organized criminal groups.
Mohamed said it is becoming increasingly difficult to track these organized criminal groups because they use sophisticated gadgets and methods of doing things by leveraging on ICT.
“We need to find ways of preventing this crime before they happen because when they do, it is difficult to catch up with them,” said Mohamed.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said pooling resources, including expertise, will make the prosecution agencies more effective in discharging their mandates.
He said the rise of transnational organized crime is a threat to the criminal justice system across the region.
“We also need to invest in research, innovation, and capacity building,” said Haji.
Haji and Matiang’i called on the political class to stop viewing prosecutors as enemies but as partners in the fight against crime and corruption.
Terrorism, Matiang’i said, thrives in an environment where there is division in the security apparatus.
“Some of these terrorists we deal with operate across the borders and they are able to pose a threat that affects all of us in one way or another,” he said.
He said fighting terrorism as a single nation will not counter the emerging international issues of cybercrime, corruption, drugs, human trafficking, among others.
“The only way we can solve these kinds of threats that we all experience is by standing together in a common ground otherwise we will fail if we embrace silo mentality,” he said.