Corruption is a hurdle in accessing justice in East Africa, with the Kenyan and Ugandan judiciaries taking the highest bribes to influence decision-making, compared with other public institutions.
According to the 2017 East African Bribery Index released recently by global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Kenyan and Ugandan judiciaries receive the biggest share of bribes paid by citizens to either influence the outcome of lawsuits or fast-track decision-making.
But the report places the police at the top as the most corrupt institution across the region, with the law enforcers being the highest bribe-takers, save for Rwanda where utilities top the list.
"The highest size of bribe was recorded at the Judiciary at Ksh1.4 million ($13,517) followed by Ksh12,360 ($119) paid at tax services and Ksh8,956 ($86) paid at land services. It is worth noting that there was an increase across the board in size of bribe recorded compared with the 2014 survey, except among the police which recorded a 28 per cent decrease."
The Kenyan judiciary has been under scrutiny after it emerged that rampant corruption had led to delays in delivery of judgements due to disappearance of files at the registry, among other tactics, which judicial officers employ to block justice.
In Tanzania, the highest bribe was recorded at tax services at Tsh126,006 ($57) followed by Tsh116,049 ($52) and Tsh90,733 ($41) paid at the Judiciary and land services respectively.
But a crackdown by President John Magufuli, which has seen shake-ups in key institutions has paid off with overall corruption perception dropping. Senior government officials in Tanzania have been sacked and sent to jail following allegations of corruption in their offices.
Tanzanian police, the report states, was the most corrupt institution followed by judicial, medical and health services respectively. Business licensing and civil registration took the least share of bribes at 2.8 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.
Uganda police was ranked the most bribery-prone institution with a score of 75 followed by the Judiciary (70), while civil registration and educational institutions came last, scoring 13.4 and 12.9 respectively.
The Judiciary and land services recorded significant change in score, with the Judiciary score increasing with 39.3 points and land services shaving off 30 points.
In Rwanda, the highest probability of paying a bribe recorded was at utilities (water and electricity) followed by police.
The least probability was recorded at medical and health services at 0.5 per cent. This was also the lowest probability of paying a bribe recorded at any institution across the region.