20 Kenyans seek witness protection

September 11, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 11 – At least 20 Kenyans have sent applications to be protected by the newly created Witness Protection Agency.

In a statement the chairman of the Advisory Board of the Agency, Attorney General Amos Wako said the Agency was due recruit its staff so as to commence an interim witness protection program.

“The board discussed the commencement of an interim witness protection program pending full implementation of the Agency. We have so far received 20 applications. The board also discussed the agency seeking secondment of staff from key government agencies to operationalise the agency in the interim period,” he said.

The Board has also raised concern of the agency’s funding in which a paltry Sh35 million was allocated during this financial year saying it will seek to address the matter with the Treasury.

The Witness Protection Agency is a crucial body that is mandated to protect witnesses who would among others help in nabbing the post election violence perpetrators and also corrupt public officers

The Adivisory Board members include the AG, Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo, Director General NSIS and representative from police and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Human rights bodies in the country have said that witnesses and victims were being threatened and have been calling on the government and the ICC to protect them.

Last Friday the government ratified an MOU with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in which it assured the court’s Registrar Silvana Arbia that it would protect victims and witnesses under its Witness Protection law.

The government also committed itself to provide security and safety to the ICC staff when they start investigations in Kenya and also open an office.

The agreement also compelled Kenya to cooperate with the ICC by offering privileges and immunities as stipulated in the international law.

Ms Arbia who is in charge of protecting victims and witnesses at the court said the court will protect witnesses participating in the Kenyan case but emphasised that the government also has a role of protecting other witnesses and victims especially those of the Waki commission.

She said the court seriously considers the safety of witnesses before accepting them to be part of any case.

The Registrar welcomed the Witness Protection law which she hoped would be a reality in protecting witnesses and victims.

She said the ICC was pleased and would as well respect it as it was in good taste to offering protection.

Developments on the Kenyan case come days after Kenya was under sharp criticism for inviting and failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he attended the promulgation of the new Constitution.

Despite that, Kenya has argued that it is committed to the ICC process and that it will give it the full cooperation as it investigates the 2008 post election violence that left 1,500 people dead and about 350,000 others displaced.


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