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Lawyers must play key role in war against corruption

By , People Daily Digital
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Justice-Martha-Koome
Chief Justice Martha Koome. Photo/PD/File

Michael Ochula    

Corruption is one of the greatest challenges facing our country. Despite efforts to combat it, including conviction and imprisonment of high-ranking government officials, politicians and private individuals, the quest to tame white collar crime remains an elusive goal. 

Notably, many people found guilty of corruption have shown no remorse. Under such circumstances, even if all the graft suspects were arrested and brought to justice, there is no guarantee that corruption would stop. 

It is irresistible to conclude that high profile perpetrators of mega corruption do, indeed, undertake a cost benefit analysis of engaging in the vice  taking into account any attendant legal consequences.

They apparently begin by planning how to get away with the crime  in the event law enforcement agencies catch up, or how to navigate the judicial system for light or favourable sentences. 

An analysis of emerging trends and patterns in the practice of graft reveal that most mega scandals are usually well planned and executed by well-organised cartels with roots spread across different institutions and sectors.

In some incidences, corruption cartels are so powerful and meticulous that they, more often than not, operate as a parallel system of government.

In such corruption networks, one thing clearly stands out; that no single mega  scandal is planned or executed without the input of a professional at one stage or another.

As part of perfecting their operations, graft cartels run by professionals plot to capture justice systems and processes. 

Effective anti-corruption strategies must, therefore, focus on dismantling the graft networks as well as bolstering professional ethics and responsibility.

Clearly, professionals bear a significant portion of blame for the challenges that bedevil the nation.

Among them are legal professionals who can rightly be said to have contributed to impunity, as opposed to advancing the rule of law as per their calling.

Under the Advocates Act, members of the legal profession have a cardinal role in advancing the rule of law and public interest.

However, majority of lawyers in Kenya have specialised as merchants of corruption and money laundering in the administration of justice thus leading to denial of justice, human rights violations and general defilement of the rule of law. 

In this regard, the creation of a clean legal system is compelling, if the fight against corruption is to bear fruit.

The fight will not be successful if the current integrity deficits among legal professionals remain unaddressed.

This similarly applies to all other law enforcers including judges, magistrates, prosecutors and legislators.

Kenya’s anti-corruption war will not be won unless the obstacles to the rule of law are removed.

Under the rule of law principle, the law is enforced equally. Without the rule of law, there will be the “rule of force” and justice will be determined by how much power or influence a man holds or how much money he is willing to pay. 

Without the rule of law, the rule of the jungle takes hold and the weak fall victim to the strong and nobody is safe.

Law is the very foundation of a peaceful and prosperous society. The rule of law creates a disincentive for the corrupt not to do what they want.

The most fundamental requirement for us to uphold the rule of law is to have credible lawyers taking the lead in upholding and defending the law.

There will be no rule of law without credible lawyers who embrace honest living and are committed to promoting justice.

The absence of credible lawyers to carry out such mission presents a disincentive to corruption eradication.

In the fight against graft, lawyers are an important instrument because they are the key actors in our legal system. 

Lawyers have a key role in the liberation of our country from the shackles of corruption and impunity.

All  efforts against corruption will fail if majority of lawyers take an opposing stance or act as onlookers. It is regrettable to see more and more lawyers standing up, not to fight corruption, but “for” corrupt suspects.

They appear to have no respect for their calling and conscience.  The comforting news is that there are still thousands of lawyers who have the desire to combat corruption and create a clean legal environment.

These lawyers should stand up and share the responsibility for combating corruption.

It is not an easy task to execute, but it is also not impossible if they choose to work and fight together.— The writer is a governance expert —[email protected]

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