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Existing Integrity and Wealth Declaration Laws inadequate for credible Vetting of Public office holders

May 3rd, 2013/….The current public and state office holders’ assets, wealth and past records declaration legal regime is very weak, ineffective and inconsistent with the Constitution. It is not helpful for the promotion of probity and accountability in the country. Parliament has a challenge to overhaul it, The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) said today,

On its own admission, appointments Committee of Parliament has been forced to develop a tighter, elaborate and detailed mechanism in readiness for vetting process of cabinet secretaries and Principal Secretaries.

This is vindication that Leadership and Integrity Act and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act are insufficient, make accessibility of the crucial assets and wealth information declaration nearly impossible to verify, and has too many exemptions.  Therefore, the present laws governing public office holders’ integrity and ethics lack credibility and are non-verifiable.

Further major events leading to the March 4, 2013 General Elections revealed a serious integrity and governance gaps and deficits. It exposed political and institutional unwillingness to tackle tough morally, ethically and integrity reproachable issues touching on potential public/state office holders. 

Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution together with National Assembly is urged to urgently review Leadership and Integrity Act and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act to bring it into conformity with Constitution and High Court rulings on integrity, ethics and full wealth and assets disclosure.

 

We observe that credible and effective integrity and wealth law is an essential component of the ensemble of rules and structures necessary for democratic governance.  It is one of the most effective compliance mechanisms adopted by nations to prevent or cure the incidence of conflict of interest among public office holders.

 

The principles served by addressing conflicts among public officials are to promote impartiality; integrity and public trust thereby enhancing public confidence in public institutions.

 

ICPC underscores that a watertight integrity and wealth declaration deters abuse of power by holders of public office; protect public assets and the public interest and official corruption. It also adequately addresses and promotes the integrity of public officials, foster public accountability and trust as well as governmental legitimacy.

 

Such a law is also good for public officials. It helps them to protect the private assets of public officials from wrongful and extra-legal confiscation and protect public officials from undue suspicion, baseless allegations of wrongdoing, and all manner of calumny.

 

Signed

Ndung’u Wainaina

Executive Director