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Kenya Scores Poorly in New Organised Crime Report

Kenya Scores Poorly in New Organised Crime Report
Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) Gladwell Otieno (centre) and other speakers during the launch of the Africa Organised Crime Index 2023 Report in Nairobi on November 24, 2023. The report ranks Kenya poorly in the continent in organised criminal activities. Photo by Barack Oduor

Kenya has poorly scored in a new ranking on organised crime in the continent after being ranked among the top five countries with the highest organised criminal activities in the Africa.

The newly released Africa Organised Crime Index 2023 Report that assesses increased criminality and growing vulnerabilities places the east African nation in the fourth position after the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and South Africa. Libya has taken the fifth position.

The report by ENACT, a body that is enhancing Africa’s capacity to respond more effectively to transnational organised crime and is also working to mitigate the impact of transnational organised crime reveals that criminality has risen in the continent, with indication of growth in human and arms trafficking across the continent since 2019.

Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union to Kenya Ondrej Simek described the report as a very solid document considering that up to 160 experts contributed to its formulation.

“This report is designed to assess organised crime and resilience, and organised criminal activities as it draws over 160 experts. Organised crime is a problem in Africa and this report can help to see how Afria compares to other regions,” said Simek.

Kenya is in the second position after Nigeria in the criminal markets scores that includes crimes such as human trafficking, cocaine trade and financial crimes. South Africa, Lybia and Mali follow Kenya respectively in the list.

Top five countries with the least criminality scores include Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Seychelles. Lesotho and Sao Tome and Principe.

Kenya also scored position 8 as a country with mafia style gangs and criminal networks. Leading countries in the category include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Africa.

Between 2019 and 2023, overall criminality in Africa rose from 4.97 to 5.25, increasing by 0.20 points between 2019 and 2021 and by 0.08 points since 2021.

Countries with the least crime scores are Lesotho, Comoros, Seychelles, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe. The report noted that resilience efforts are failing to adequately address the organised crime threat in the continent and that conflict has created opportunities for criminality to thrive.

“Widespread insecurity, ranging from political violence to open conflict, enables illicit markets to flourish and criminal groups to exploit insecurities and act with general impunity,” noted the report.

The crime index report also revealed that the space for civil society is shrinking and that Africa faces unique challenges and opportunities.

“Since 2019, East Africa has been assessed as the region with the highest levels of criminality, driven largely by armed and ethnic conflicts, and the presence of non- state armed groups and militia,” the report indicated.

Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG), Gladwell Otieno said the report is significant as its research has been conducted by African experts who understand the continent and its challenges well.

“It is now worthy that we are discussing this as an Africa made report. What we have seen with so many other indexes are that we have felt uncomfortable on how they have been constructed. Experts who produced this report are Africans,” said Gladwell.

She noted that the report should be seen as a way to identify problems in the continent and how to respond to them.

The report describes criminal actors as mafia- style groups, criminal networks, state- embedded actors, foreign actors and private sector actors.

It also delves into various crimes in the market such as human trafficking and smuggling, arms trafficking, trade in counterfeit goods, flora and fauna crimes, illegal drugs trade and financial crimes.

The report outlines how unprecedented openness in trade, finance, travel and communication has also given rise to enormous opportunities for criminals. Surpassing borders, organised crime threatens governance, peace and development.

In the report, criminal organisations use legitimate state structures to sustain the circulation and sale of illicit goods, facilitate money laundering and minimise the risk of prosecution. In addition, certain forms of organised crime are linked with conflict and violent extremism in Africa.

Responses to organised crime have traditionally been framed within a criminal justice or security context – with little consideration for tackling it from a socio-economic perspective. The report now calls for a more holistic understanding of the phenomenon and its impact.

The report calls for security sector actors to recognise that organised crime poses challenges not only to Africa, but also to surrounding regions.

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