Business

Prosecutor’s office is a national shame

Friday, February 9th, 2024 05:00 | By
Prosecutor’s office is a national shame
Director of Public Prosecutions Renson Ingonga when he paid a courtesy call to Chief Justice Martha Koome at the Supreme Court on October 16, 2023. PHOTO/(@ODPP_KE)/X

Under the old Constitution, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution operated under the Attorney General. The office was delinked from the Attorney-General by the 2010 Constitution.

The divorce was meant to ensure it operated independently. The move was also calculated to cure a window that opened the office to abuse by the regime in power.

Many Kenyans today bear scars of politically instigated cases when the Moi administration used courts to persecute opponents.

Prosecutors were instructed to go on witch-hunting missions to orchestrate the arrest of people perceived to be opposed to the government for prosecution in courts at night.

Many Kenyans were detained and tortured while others died. That is why the drafters of the 2010 Constitution sought to shield the office by ensuring that the holder does not take instructions from either the Executive, Judiciary or Parliament. Article 157 states that the DPP shall not require the consent of any person or authority for the commencement of criminal proceedings and in the exercise of his or her powers or functions.

The Constitution is also clear that the office holder shall not be under the direction or control of any person or authority.

Further, it stipulates that in exercising the powers conferred by Article 157, the DPP shall have regard to public interest, the interests of the administration of justice and the need to prevent and avoid abuse of the legal process.

It is terrifying that many Kenyans have expressed reservations about the independence of the ODPP.

Indeed, angry magistrates have reprimanded and called out the office over aided acquittals in prosecution of powerful individuals charged with graft. The prosecution has been collapsing certain cases by withdrawal of witnesses, unnecessary adjournments, weak evidence and what one magistrate characterized as “reckless dereliction of duty.”

It can no longer be disguised that the DPP has unashamedly failed to conduct cases in a manner that promotes public interest and good. There are strong accusations that the office has become a gleeful marionette of the Ruto administration. It is being used to subvert justice.

The office appears accountable not to ordinary Kenyans seeking justice but rather to the Executive. We ask the office holder to restore the dignity of the institution and serve public interest and Kenyans to be vigilant on his or her conduct.

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