Economy

One in five convicted of alcohol offences

Counterfeit

KRA staff destroy counterfeit alcohol in April 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • One in five convicted criminals was found guilty of liquour-related offences as state crackdowns on bootleg alcohol pushed up the number of felons.
  • The Economic Survey 2021, data showed that Kenya jails about 25,000 prisoners each year with alcohol-related offences, making the biggest chunk of convicted felons.
  • Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data showed that 22.1 percent of convicted criminals had committed liquor offences out of the 77,347 inmates jailed in 2019.

One in five convicted criminals was found guilty of alcohol-related offences as state crackdowns on bootleg alcohol pushed up the number of felons.

The Economic Survey 2021, data showed that Kenya jails about 25,000 prisoners each year with alcohol-related offences, making the biggest chunk of convicted felons.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data showed that 22.1 percent of convicted criminals had committed liquor offences out of the 77,347 inmates jailed in 2019.

The latest data by a special taskforce led by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards, Anti-Counterfeit Authority, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, and Government Chemist shows that counterfeit alcohol has topped the list of goods seized by the multi-agency team.

“Liquor offences accounted for the highest number of convicted male and female prisoners at 22.1 percent of inmates followed by offences relating to property at 13.5 percent, and order and administration of Lawful Authority at 3.7 percent,” KNBS said.

Alcohol smuggling and counterfeit liquor have become a huge headache for the government besides taverns that sell local brews.

Higher taxes in Kenya have also mispriced alcohol products comparative to the region making it very lucrative to divert ethanol leading to a upsurge of condemned alcohol being smuggled into the country through non-gazetted routes along the Kenya-Uganda and the Kenya-Tanzania borders.

A National Crime Research Centre study showed that alcohol smuggling at 28 percent of all incidences were only second to sugar smuggling.

This year alone, KRA and the multi-agency team conducted 44 sting operations in the three months to March where half of the goods nabbed were alcohol and ethanol.

Out of the Sh121 million goods seized, Sh50 million worth of alcoholic products were seized most of which was counterfeit.

Taxman data shows Sh23 million ethanol was seized mostly concealed to evade taxes, smuggled, and undervalued.

Despite the persistent trend over the years, crime data shows conviction rates fell by almost half last year.

KNBS noted there was a general decrease in the number of persons convicted due to various offences declined by almost 62 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Provisional data showed that only 29,306 persons were convicted in 2020 indicating the effect of restriction of movement and disruption of court proceedings slowed down convictions.

The number of offenders charged with other cases declined significantly, from 18,439 in 2019 to 7,751 in 2020.