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Corruption fight will only be won in court!



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In the recent past, Kenyans have been inundated with public displays of disgust against one player or the other in the legal justice system. Over the years, official disappointment was routinely expressed against the judiciary, with the contention that people deemed corrupt in the public eye were being acquitted ‘on technicalities’.

Indeed, there are videos reminiscent of the Cambridge Analytica campaign productions circulating online making serious accusations against the judiciary, some of them bordering on the ridiculous.

Many Kenyans continue to propagate the trope of a corrupt judiciary to explain the impunity that pervades our public service and enables state and public officers to face us and ask over and over again, “Mta-do?” (What will you do?) There have even been very public spats between the leaderships of the executive and the judiciary, and recently the judiciary has accused the executive of lacking respect and attempting to financially cripple this arm of the government.

It should be appreciated that the judiciary is just but one piece of a complex jigsaw puzzle meant to ensure that we enjoy peaceful lives in which we can pursue our own goals and desires with the certainty that justice will always prevail whenever we feel wronged. The other pieces of this puzzle include the prosecution and the law enforcers.

Within this system, the law enforcement apparatus is meant to protect the public from potential law-breakers, to investigate crimes whenever they occur and collect and preserve the evidence that will be used in court to convict law-breakers. After the judiciary makes its determinations, the law enforcers ensure that the decisions are respected and implemented.


Law enforcers even have the legal and constitutional authority to use reasonable force where necessary to ensure the law and the decisions of the courts are obeyed.

The other cog in the legal justice wheel is the prosecution. The law places on the office of the DPP the sole responsibility to authorise and carry out all criminal prosecutions in the republic.

Prosecutors review allegations of criminal conduct and may advise the investigators on the kind of evidence required to secure a conviction.

The prosecution will then review the collected evidence and determine whether the threshold for prosecution has been reached or not.

Once the prosecution decides to take a case to court, it is their responsibility to present a convincing argument in order to secure a conviction.

Of course the accused persons will also do their best to secure the best defence available to them, and as a result, in our adversarial judicial system, the decision comes down to who has the most persuasive lawyers in court.

It follows therefore that presenting a weak case in court, no matter how powerful public sentiment is, is a recipe for prosecutorial disaster.

You can’t present a weak case in court and then turn around and blame the judiciary for dismissing it in the face of a strong defence from the accused persons.

It follows also that it is wrong for the investigatory arm of the system to provide weak evidence in support of a criminal prosecution, and then turn around and hit out at the prosecutors when they refuse to take the matter to court and demand better quality evidence.

The legal justice system works well only when every one of the components does their job well.

Lukoye Atwoli is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Moi University School of Medicine; [email protected]

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