Witnesses in High Profile Cases to be Hidden Outside Kenya

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Witnesses in High Profile Cases to be Hidden Outside Kenya

The government is planning to take witnesses at risk abroad to protect them.

Witnesses in high-profile cases, whose lives could be in danger, will be flown to countries with similar laws as Kenya’s on a reciprocal basis.

The agency’s Principal Public Relations Officer Calvin Oredi stated: “We do not have any witness protected outside the country but are working on bilateral agreements based on the amendments that were made on the Witness Protection Act.”

The agreement will admit qualifying witnesses from that country in the witness protection programme under the Kenyan law or have a local witness protected under the witness protection regime of that foreign country.

Oredi stated that WPA received 1,123 applications since it started its operations in September 2008, out of which 487 applicants were admitted to the local programme along with 1,373 defendants.

The WPA relocated some of those in the programme from one part of the country and even changed some of their identities in the court cases. 

Out of the 487 witnesses, 309 have since testified in courts successfully while some are already out of the programme after their risk factors were assessed.

Section 29A(1) of the Act amended in 2016 indicates that the agency’s director, in consultation with the Attorney General, may on the basis of any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya enter into a written agreement with a competent authority from a foreign country.

The period of protection, the source of funding, reasons for protecting the person and the nature of risk, particulars of the witness and other relevant details must be included in the document.

A number of people who are crucial state witnesses in corruption cases such as the National Youth Service scandal, terrorism, sexual offences and land matters have applied to the Witness Protection Agency (WPA) to guard them against threats or risks existing on account of their role in the matters.

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