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Kenyan police still tops corruption index

afrol News, 18 July - For the seventh time in a row Kenya's police force has been ranked as the country's most corruption-prone institution.

The East African country's police topped 26 local institutions surveyed, rating 57 on an aggregate scale of zero to 100, Transparency International Kenya chapter (TI-Kenya) said in a report. "Only the Kenya police exceed the halfway mark of 50," the group's research showed.

The anti-corruption group's local Chairperson, Richard Leakey, was worried that "bribery in the public sector is likely to further raise the cost of living through the imposition of illegal fees on the public."

Kenyan police spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, rejected the report, describing it as "dubious" because without the complicity of the public to initiate payments, there would not have been corruption. Kiraithe said in such a situation it would be unfair to squarely blame the police.

"Having self-serving statistics to lay blame on the police is completely mistaken," he said.

Kenyans are frequently asked for bribes to gain access to services such as education and health care, TI's Global Corruption Barometer 2008 said, expressing concern about the significant increase in the level of corruption in both public and private institutions this year.

Based on the new report, 45% of respondents claimed to have paid bribes to speed up access to basic services compared to 29% in 2007.

"This is a reminder that corruption remains a significant challenge to public service delivery in Kenya," TI Chairman Dr Richard Leakey said.

The report said some parents paid as much as Sh2,654 to secure admission for their children to private universities. Respondents also paid bribes to obtain employment, licence or permit to avoid a brush aside with the law or some punitive measure.

Among the government departments that top the corruption index include Ministries of Health, Lands and Immigration, Health, Provincial Administration, City Councils in Nairobi and Mombasa and hospitals.

Researched showed that 90% of respondents who interacted with the police were asked for kick-backs while 84% bribed the Local Authority; 79% the Lands and Immigration ministries and 63% the Kenya Revenue Authority and Electoral Commission of Kenya.

Job Ogonda, Director of TI-Kenya said the fact that political class continues to benefit from the "rot in the system," the political will to prevent and punish corruption is not forthcoming.

"Public service delivery in Kenya are prone to bribery to impunity entrenched by leadership, inefficiency in public sectors and policies that hamper Kenyans' ability to understand, monitor, and access the impact and process of service delivery," he said, adding that "effective policies are those that give the people and the government the greatest, accessible and affordable services at the least cost in terms of fee and establishment."

Ogonda said the "pervasiveness of corruption" is turning Kenya into a nation of "predominantly resigned citizens on matters of transparency and accountability in the management of public funds."

The graft watchdog tasked Kenyan citizens to contain bribery through monitoring and influencing service and policy impact at the lowest local level.

The damning report's publication coincided with the government's statement that the war against corruption had taken ethnic and political dimensions.

However, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Justice Minister Martha Karua called on leaders to accept the fact that corruption is a crime and that its perpetrators act in their own selfish interest to the detriment of Kenyans.

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