By Pascal Kwesiga
The UN has asked Uganda to merge the anti-corruption institutions and laws to streamline and ease the battle against graft.
The United Nations Africa Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) deputy director for Uganda, John Kisembo has noted that several anti-corruption agencies in Uganda are uncoordinated in the fight against graft.
“The efforts of these agencies are not coordinated. They are fighting for budget, jobs and in the process they don’t perform their duties as expected,” Kisembo said at the closure of the UNAFRI think tank workshop on the prevention of the emerging environmental crimes in Kampala on Thursday.
Uganda’s anti-corruption agencies are; Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA), the Office of the Auditor General, the Inspectorate General of Government (IGG), the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID); the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Kisembo, who served as the Inspector General of Police, observed that sometimes the anti-corruption agencies handle the same cases which confuse the public and whistleblowers.
“You have the PAC arresting, CIID investigating and the IGG interdicting. It’s a muddle really,” he explained.
He also stressed the need to merge all the anti-corruption laws, saying the lack of coordination in the laws and agencies involved in the fight against corruption was rendering the implementation of the UN convention against corruption.
The head of the environment police, Taire Idhwege said the lack of coordination among the agencies involved in enforcing environmental laws was rendering their work difficult.
He said National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority (NFA), Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and the judiciary are grossly uncoordinated in their efforts to save the environment.
“We are supposed to be a united front but we are not coordinated. One agency is issuing license to developers in wetlands and forest and another is against it and that makes the police work difficult,” Idhwege said.
The state prosecutors who attended the workshop organized by UNAFRI admitted that they didn’t have enough knowledge on environment to enable them competently prosecute crimes against the environment.
They also said some magistrates have limited knowledge about environment issues and don’t treat environmental crimes seriously.
The participants recommended to government to amend environmental laws to provide for harsh penalties for the culprits.