Prosecutor Noordin Haji welcomed measures to hold his office accountable for its decisions, but promised not to give in to his independence.
When working with media through the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG), Haji said it was a government bureau subject to public scrutiny, comment and evaluation.
Editors and media practitioners who attended the forum in Mombasa yesterday questioned, among other things, its extensive powers to implement new guidelines to rule on indictments, hearings and deferred prosecutions.
“As the ODPP, we submit to supervision by internal and external supervisory mechanisms. We communicate with the public on a regular basis, but we also welcome any action that will further hold us accountable under the law, ”said Haji.
Haji said his office must protect the rights of all Kenyans, that he would not agree to take cases to court so they can collapse, and that high quality evidence will carry the day in court.
“Despite a lot of internal and external opposition and side discussions, we will continue to strive for independence as the only constitutionally required public prosecutor’s office,” he said.
The director of the prosecution will not enter into negotiations with sex offenders and people with crimes against humanity, he said.
DPP Noordin Haji reached out to members of the Editors Guild yesterday in Mombasa, saying the 2018 pleading guidelines helped prosecutors agree on sentences with suspects in order to reduce the backlog in the courts.
“Contrary to public perception, these guidelines are intended to strictly ensure that prosecutions are only initiated in cases where there is evidence and the prosecution is justified in the public interest,” said Haji.
Haji said his office has developed a robust and careful legal framework that will initiate deferred prosecution arrangements with those affected by white-collar crime.
Haji recognized the role of editors in promoting the pursuit of justice. He said the media remains a vital actor in shaping the moral fabric and enhancing the ideals of the nation.
The KEG official Ruth Nafuna called on the ODPP to prepare for a more detailed examination by the media. The media scientist Dr. Nyakundi Nyamboga asked the ODPP to implement a timely and structured flow of information on ongoing cases as well as the decisions made and their justification.
ODPP officials, led by Chief of Staff Lilian Obuo and Deputy Director Victor Mule, briefed the media on their Charter of Excellence, indictment decision guidelines, pleading guidelines, deferred prosecution arrangements, and crime mapping from their office’s perspective.
Mule announced plans to release a new fee sheet to replace the current one.
Judge Jane Frances Abodo, the guest speaker, said the DPP was independent. “Nobody can influence the decision of DPP.”
Abodo, the director of the Uganda Prosecutor’s Office, urged journalists to disseminate information about the prosecutor’s office so that citizens can understand what is going on in the criminal justice system.
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