Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta have discussed efforts to fight corruption as well as healthcare and international affairs. A Kenyan embassy in Bern is set to open later this year.
A declaration of intent on the return of illegally acquired funds was also signed during official talks in Nairobi on Monday.
The declaration of intent on the Framework for the Return of Assets from Corruption and Crime in Kenya (FRACCK) sets out best practices regarding the return of illegally acquired funds to Kenya. In particular these include transparency and accountability in the return process, the use of funds for the benefit of the civilian population, and the possibility of investing the funds in projects to promote sustainable development.
These principles will provide a framework for returning illegally acquired funds from Switzerland to Kenya, the foreign affairs ministry said on Monday. In addition to Switzerland, Britain and the Channel Island of Jersey will join in signing the declaration of intent with Kenya. Assets are currently frozen in these countries as in Switzerland (roughly $2 million (CHF1.98 million)) following a request for legal assistance.
Berset stressed the importance of strong national judicial bodies for democracy and the rule of law, and commended the independence of Kenya’s justice system, which was demonstrated when the presidential elections were re-run in 2017.
Increasingly important partner
Switzerland considers Kenya to be an increasingly important partner, both politically and economically, the foreign affairs ministry said.
Kenya is among Switzerland’s five most important trade partners south of the Sahara; bilateral trade has doubled since 2005. While Switzerland has been served from London in recent years, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya plans to open an embassy in Bern by the end of the year.
The ministry said there is also potential for closer cooperation in view of the plans of the Kenyan government to expand the public health service. The Swiss delegation explained that Swiss firms were following with great interest the steps taken by Kenya to improve the investment climate in numerous sectors.
Regarding international affairs, the two sides discussed the situation in East Africa, particularly in Somalia and South Sudan, as well as the positive steps being taken between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Further topics of discussion included cooperation between Switzerland and Kenya at the international level, as well as Switzerland’s relations with the African Union, which have intensified in recent years.