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Civil society groups raise red flag over cartels sabotaging government war on counterfeit goods 

The  Cartels operating within the directorate of criminal investigations, DCI, The Judiciary, and the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) are allegedly frustrating government efforts to decisively deal with counterfeit trade.

According to civil society groups operating in Uasin Gishu, cases involving traders dealing in counterfeit goods are frustrated by the cartels who ensure the culprits are released using fake documents.

The  civil society groups claimed that the counterfeit business was thriving in Eldoret town and its outskirts because of a few rogue officers within the DCI, the DPP and the law courts who ensure unscrupulous business people arrested with counterfeits are released and the confiscated goods released to the owners.

They expressed concern that counterfeit cartels were colluding with court clerks to frustrate the court cases demoralizing committed police officers and other government agencies who are fighting to ensure the counterfeit goods are not sold within the county.

Speaking during a press briefing in Eldoret on Tuesday officials drawn from the various civil society organizations including Centre for human rights and mediation, centre against torture and National coalition of human rights defenders also claimed that fake documents such as Title deeds and vehicle log books were being used to secure the release of the suspects.

“Crafty court clerks at Eldoret law courts are facilitating the use of fake documents to secure the release of people dealing in counterfeit goods,” claimed Kimutai Kirui from Centre against torture group.

Kirui cited a recent incident where a businessman arrested with counterfeit goods went to court and the goods were released to him. “Why should the court release goods that are clearly known to be counterfeits to a suspect to continue selling to unsuspecting members of the community?” he wondered.

Nick Omito (Centre for human rights and mitigation) and Agatha Mukami (National coalition of human rights defenders) echoed the sentiments and appealed to the Judicial Service commission, DPP and the DCI to undertake serious investigations to root out the cartels within their own staff.

“It is unfortunate that honest police officers arrest counterfeit traders only to see them being released because of corrupt officials in the DCI, DPP and courts who collude with the culprits to defeat justice,” said Omito.

They said residents of Eldoret were in danger of being exposed to dangerous goods that could even affect their health.

The notorious areas in counterfeits goods such as cigarettes meant for export and liquor from a neighbouring country are being sold include Langas, Munyaka, Kamukunji, Kipkorgot and the periphery of Moi University.

“These goods are not only dangerous to the health of the residents, but the business is also denying the government revenue,” said Kitui who called for the immediate transfer of DCI officers who have served in the county for more than 10 years.

By  Kiptanui  Cherono

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