BY WAMBUI NDONGA
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo on Thursday asked persons who have been sexually violated to report the incidences to the police so as to facilitate timely investigations and ensure those responsible were prosecuted.
Mr Kilonzo noted that several sexual abuse cases failed to materialise in court due to poor evidence gathering by the investigators, thereby enabling the offenders to walk away scot-free.
“I don’t think the question is penalties because there are sufficient penalties even now; the issue in Kenya is evidence and its management so that when an allegation is made you can prove it in court,” said Mr Kilonzo.
“And it’s not good for faith-based people to be accused of some of these crimes,” he added.
Mr Kilonzo called on religious leaders to report those among them that were accused of sexual violations saying they ought to be punished.
He further urged them to support the nomination of Dr Willy Mutunga and Nancy Baraza as the country’s next Chief Justice and deputy Chief Justice respectively arguing that they would help curb the vice.
“I want the church to support these nominees because I believe Dr Mutunga and Ms Baraza will ensure that any person, whether priest or otherwise, caught violating the rights of minors is prosecuted so that they can stop,” he said.
He also revealed his intention to table, in Parliament, regulations that have been crafted by his ministry to curb corruption in the country.
This follows the May 13 gazettement of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Amnesty and Restitution Regulations that offer reprieve to those who give up property that was fraudulently acquired.
Mr Kilonzo, who also proposed that stiffer penalties be administered on those found guilty of fraud, added that the country should conclusively investigate corruption scandals. He noted that there were several corruption scandals, dating back to independence that had never been resolved.
“You will be surprised that China has the death penalty on persons convicted of corruption. The Philippines have a similar penalty and I think it is high time Kenya came up with more severe punishments for corruption so that we can make corruption a life and death affair,” he argued.
The Justice Minister also reiterated his calls to the Finance ministry asking it to set aside Sh1.2 billion for witness protection in the upcoming financial year. Parliament managed to set aside Sh50 million to witness protection during the supplementary budget but Mr Kilonzo maintains that the allocation was meagre.
Mr Kilonzo also observed that the Witness Protection Agency would be officially launched in the next two weeks saying that it would help fight graft if it was properly effected.
He noted that persons who had in the past volunteered information on high level corruption were often intimidated with some even losing their jobs.
“It has often been said that corruption fights back but no one knows its viciousness if not the witnesses themselves. We appear as a nation that lives under an unofficial martyr code where silence is treasured even if it is delivered through the burrows of a gun,” he quipped.