AG swings into action over threats to ICC witness

September 27, 2011 3:11 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Attorney General Prof Githu Muigai has expressed concern over the alleged harassment and threats directed at the family of an ICC witness said to have been forced to vacate their residence and seek refuge elsewhere.

A statement by the State Law office says Prof Muigai has instructed Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere to immediately take up the matter and take action against the aggressors.

“The Attorney General (in his capacity as Chair of Witness Protection Advisory Board) has immediately requested the Commissioner of Police to assist in locating the whereabouts of the family to enable the Witness Protection Agency consider/appraise their need for a preliminary stop-gap intervention/protection,” Prof Muigai said.

The AG said his office would do everything possible to ensure ICC suspects who have testified or are waiting to testify are well secured.

He said he had asked Iteere to “urgently investigate the claims of attacks and threats and those culpable be prosecuted (in liaison with Director of Public Prosecutions).”

The family of a man waiting to testify at the ICC on Monday told local TV stations and newspapers that they were constantly harassed and ridiculed by his neighbours in Nandi district, forcing them to relocate.

The family members also accused the police and provincial administration of failing to take appropriate action despite having reported the matter to them.

One of the family members who addressed journalists and whose name cannot be revealed at the risk of compromising his security said they had relocated from their home in Nandi District and discreetly sought refuge at a relative’s home in Eldoret town to avoid further attacks.

This follows an alleged attack by a group of youth who stoned the family house while shouting slogans against the ICC.

Some family members are also reported to have faced sporadic harassment and threat of death.

The family is said to have reported the harassment and threats to a local police station and the area Chief but instead of being protected they were harassed.

In the Tuesday response, Prof Muigai said his office would work closely with the ICC liaison department to enhance protection for the witness’ family members.

“The mandate of the Witness Protection Agency under Section 3B (1) of the Witness Protection Act is to provide a framework and procedures for giving special protection, on behalf of the State, to persons in possession of important information and who are facing potential risk or intimidation due to their cooperation with Prosecution authorities and other Law enforcement agencies,” Prof Muigai said.

Under Section 3 (2) of the [Witness Protection] Act, this protection extends to persons who are related to protected persons or who are in danger on account of testimony given/to be given by a witness.

The Agency may undertake this function alone or in collaboration with other Agencies under Sections 3D (1)  (d) of the Witness Protection Act.

“The Attorney General is of the view that even as the quest for justice remains on course  in relation to the 2007 post-election violence , the general public should refrain from temptations to  agitation while the police should ensure Law and order is maintained,” Prof Muigai.


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