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The threat posed by organized crime is not confined to serious crimes such as racketeering, the global drug trade, or human trafficking. For many developing countries and fragile states, powerful transnational criminal networks constitute a direct threat to the state itself, not through open confrontation but by penetrating state institutions through bribery and corruption and by subverting or undermining them from within. Governments that lack the capacity to counter such penetration, or that acquiesce in it, face the threat of state institutions becoming dysfunctional and criminalized, and the very foundations of the state being undermined. This report examines whether Kenya faces such a threat.

Six categories of transnational organized crime are examined, pointing to significant increases in criminal activity with pervasive impacts on government institutions in Kenya. Rampant corruption in the police, judiciary, and other state institutions has facilitated criminal networks’ penetration of political institutions.

The research findings do not justify Kenya being labeled as a criminalized state, but its foundations are under attack. Determined interventions are required to stem organized criminal networks from further undermining the state. The report concludes with recommendations for steps to be taken at the national, regional, and international levels.

Termites at Work, 2011

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