Former Kenya Attorney General challenges graft-related travel sanctions

Julie Ward's father, John (R) greets Kenya's Attorney General Amos Wako before proceedings of the High Court of Kenya at the Kenya High Commission in central London, 11 May 1999. The court is hearing evidence in the trial of Simon ole Makallah, a Masai Mara game warden accused of murdering tourist Julie Ward in September 1988. The trial was moved from Kenya to London because one of the witnesses, pathologist Professor Austin Gresham, was not fit enough to travel to Nairobi. (Photo by FIONA HANSON / POOL / AFP)

Kenya’s immediate former Attorney General and current senator of Busia County, Amos Wako, has challenged a United States directive issued on Monday by U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo which imposes a travel ban on him and his family.

The senator, his wife Flora Ngaira and his son Julius Wako have been barred from entry into the United States over his alleged involvement in “significant corruption”.

“Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States,” the statement from Pompeo read.

WATCH: Former Kenya Attorney General, Amos Wako Challenges US Travel Ban

In a press conference at the Parliament grounds on Wednesday, Wako denied any wrongdoing and challenged the U.S. Government to make public their allegations.

“I am against corruption and I believe that I as an individual and the people of Kenya as a whole are entitled to full disclosure on the general allegations of corruption against me.

These nebulous accusations and aspersions do not help in the fight against corruption and can, in fact, be defamatory in nature,” the embattled senator asserted.

He also decried the blanket imposition of sanctions on his wife and adult sons, claiming that they were not involved in the dispensation of his duties as Attorney General and ‘should not be punished for his sins’.

Wako served as Kenya’s Attorney General from 1991 to 2011; he later sought elective office as the senator of Busia County in Western Kenya, a position he has held for two consecutive terms since 2019.

He was regularly and strongly criticised by Washington during his tenure in the state office for his inertia as regards the prosecution of corruption cases.

The U.S. had previously imposed a travel ban on Wako in October 2009 for similar reasons. It is unclear why a second one has been issued when the first appears to never have been formally lifted.


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