Enforcement
November 18, 2019

U.S. Bars Former Kenyan Attorney General

By Samuel Rubenfeld

 

The U.S. State Department on Monday barred entry to former Kenyan Attorney General Amos Sitswila Wako over his involvement in significant corruption.

The action “sends a strong signal that the United States is a valuable partner in Kenya’s fight against corruption,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement. “Economic prosperity for all Kenyans is only possible by defeating the scourge of corruption, which also requires a functional, fair, and transparent criminal justice system.”

The statement does not specify the acts of corruption that led to Wako’s designation. However, “Wako has engaged in and benefited from public corruption in his capacity as Attorney General for the past 18 years by interference with judicial and other public processes,” according to a leaked 2009 diplomatic cable quoted in a report by Der Spiegel. Wako ended his tenure as Kenyan attorney general in 2011 denying he was to blame for endemic corruption and impunity.  

He was banned previously from traveling to the U.S., threatening in 2009 to sue over the decision, according to media reporting from the time. Wako is now a member of the Kenyan senate and on a task force, called the Building Bridges Initiative, that is engaged in an effort for reconciliation following a disputed, violent election in 2017, according to media reports.  

The U.S. imposed the ban on Monday under its authority to bar entry to foreign officials involved in significant corruption or gross human rights violations. In addition to Wako, the U.S. also barred his wife and son.

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