The criminal code and the 2013 Anticorruption and Economic Crimes Act provide criminal penalties for official corruption. The government did not implement these laws effectively, however, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
Although it commenced several high-profile corruption investigations during the year, the government did not successfully conclude any prosecutions of high-level officials for corruption. Officials from agencies tasked with fighting corruption, including the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission (EACC), the ODPP, and the judiciary, were sometimes the subject of corruption allegations.
The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2014, the most recent data available, indicated that corruption was a severe problem. According to a University of Nairobi/Afrobarometer report issued in April, a majority of citizens said that corruption had increased during the previous year, and the government had performed poorly in fighting it. According to the report, police, government officials, members of Parliament, and business executives were most widely perceived as corrupt. A majority of participants who said they paid bribes did not report the incidents. The main reasons for nonreporting were fear of retaliation and perceived inaction by authorities. Official corruption was pervasive at all levels of government, often in the form of land seizures, conflict of interest in government procurement, and demands for bribes.
The EACC, an independent agency created in 2011, has the legal mandate to investigate official corruption allegations, develop and enforce a code of ethics for public officials, and engage in public outreach on corruption. The EACC, however, lacks prosecutorial authority and must refer cases to the ODPP to initiate prosecutions. The EACC and the ODPP lacked the technical and financial capacity to execute their mandates fully.
The EACC continued to implement a five-year strategic plan, adopted in 2014, designed to increase its capacity. The government increased the EACC’s budget significantly during the year, from 1.8 billion shillings ($17.6 million) in 2014 to 2.6 billion shillings ($25.4 million). According to the government’s Economic Survey for 2015, the EACC increased the number of cases it handled by 19.4 percent, from 3,355 in 2013 to 4,006 in 2014. Between January and November, the EACC referred 117 cases to prosecutors and obtained six convictions. There were 286 corruption cases pending in court.
The EACC made some progress in ensuring that government ministries, departments, and independent commissions developed leadership and integrity codes as required by the 2012 Leadership and Integrity Act. As of October 22, 38 ministries, departments, and independent commissions had submitted ethics codes to the EACC for approval. Those government institutions that failed to comply with the act’s requirements, however, included some of those charged with eradicating corruption, including the Judicial Service Commission, the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the ODPP, the Office of the Auditor General, and the Commission on Administration of Justice.
On March 26, the president ordered the release of a confidential EACC report containing corruption allegations against 124 government officials, including five cabinet secretaries and three principal secretaries. As of September the EACC had submitted 59 of those cases to the ODPP, which approved 32 cases for prosecution. These included cases against two cabinet secretaries (Transport Secretary Michael Kamau and Lands Secretary Charity Ngilu), two governors (Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Garissa Governor Nadhif Jama), four members of Parliament, several directors of state corporations, and a number of county officials. Those cases continued at year’s end. There were numerous similar abuses reported during the year.
In 2013, during implementation of the 2010 constitution, the government initiated a new system of devolved governance through which the national government began sharing responsibilities and revenues with 47 newly established county governments led by directly elected governors. Many county executive committees struggled with budgeting fundamentals and financial accountability.
On March 25, the president issued an executive order for the implementation of a Code of Governance for Government-Owned Entities. The code, developed in consultation with the World Bank, instituted some corporate governance standards consistent with those adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the King III Report on Corporate Governance, and the Malaysia Code.
The government continued a push to digitize government services in an effort to increase fiscal transparency. A government website launched by the president in 2013, where citizens could anonymously report corruption and bribery by government officials, was not functional. In July the president committed to complete reinstating it by December, and an online procurement system designed to reduce fraud became mandatory for national and county government offices. An electronic system for tracking imports and exports, designed to reduce graft and improve revenue collection, became operational during the year.
Corruption: While police and government corruption was widely viewed as endemic, authorities rarely arrested and prosecuted public officers (see section 1.d.). Observers reported bribe taking by immigration officials during the year. According to widespread international and local media reporting following the April terrorist attack in Garissa, corruption by security agencies at border points was widespread and may have contributed to security lapses in preventing terrorist attacks.
Officers set up roadblocks to solicit bribes from those who were not in possession of identification documents. According to IPOA, bribes solicited ranged from 2,000 to 20,000 shillings ($19.60 to $197) on a sliding scale depending upon individuals’ ethnicity, whether they were carrying identification, and whether they were refugees. In June the Judiciary and National Police Service released new measures to reform the handling of traffic cases by police and courts, streamlining the management of traffic offenses to curb corruption.
Financial Disclosure: The law requires all public officers to declare their income, assets, and liabilities to their “responsible commission” (for example, the Parliamentary Service Commission in the case of members of Parliament) every two years. Public officers must also include income, assets, and liabilities of their spouses and dependent children under age of 18. Information contained in these declarations was not readily available to the public, and the relevant commission must approve requests to obtain and publish this information. Any person who publishes or otherwise makes public information contained in public officer declarations without such permission may be subject to imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to 500,000 shillings ($4,902), or both. Authorities also required police officers undergoing vetting to file financial disclosure reports for themselves and their immediate family members. These reports were publicly available (see section 1.d.).
The 2012 Leadership and Integrity Act requires public officers to register potential conflicts of interest with the relevant commissions. The law identifies interests that public officials must register, including directorships in public or private companies, remunerated employment, securities holdings, and contracts for supply of goods or services, among others. The law requires candidates seeking appointment to nonelective public offices to declare their wealth, political affiliations, and relationships with other senior public officers. This requirement is in addition to background screening on education, tax compliance, leadership, and integrity. Many officials met these requirements and reported potential conflicts of interest. The government generally did not seek criminal or administrative sanctions for noncompliance. Authorities did not strictly enforce ethics rules relating to the receipt of gifts and hospitality by public officials.
There were no challenges to any declarations of wealth or conflicts of interest filed by public officials.
Public Access to Information: The constitution provides citizens access to information held by the state and requires the government to publish and publicize important information affecting the country. There is no freedom of information implementing legislation, however, and the government frequently did not respond to requests for information. The government did make some information available on the internet.
In 2011 the government joined the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. It also launched a website, the Kenya Open Data Portal to provide a comprehensive and transparent site for citizens to access data from government ministries. The website contains census data and information on government expenditures, parliamentary proceedings, and public service delivery locations. In July the portal was a finalist in a global competition held by the Bloomberg company and the United Kingdom’s Open Data Institute.
Of the Open Government Partnership’s four goals (citizen engagement, fiscal transparency, access to information, and income and asset disclosure), the government made the most progress in fiscal transparency and income and asset disclosure through institution of its online tender system and automated tax payment systems.
In March the government launched a news portal allowing citizens to access information about government services, initiatives, programs, and policies. Information on the site generally appeared to be up to date and accurate.
The government televised its spokesperson’s briefings and broadcast parliamentary debates live on television and radio.