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Come testify, AG tells post-poll chaos victims

BUSINESS
By | March 15th 2012
By | March 15th 2012
BUSINESS

By Athman Amran

Attorney General Githu Muigai has called on witnesses and victims of the 2007 and 2008 post-election violence to come forward and testify.

Prof Muigai assured them of their safety during investigations and trial now that the Witness Protection Agency (WPA) is operational.

"Dealing with post-election violence investigations and prosecutions has been a challenge. Most witnesses and victims are not willing to come forward to testify," the AG said in a speech read on his behalf by senior deputy Solicitor General Ms Muthoni Kimani Thursday.

The AG was giving a keynote address during a witness protection sensitisation workshop for the Media at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

Attorney General Githu Muigai. Photo: File/Standard

Prof Muigai said that an effective and efficient witness protection programme is a vital complimentary tool to the criminal justice system to ensure that the culture of impunity is eliminated.

He said this would ensure sufficient evidence is obtained from those who may be the only persons with direct evidence to successfully prosecute cases.

"The State has a duty of care to its citizenry to ensure that the experience of testifying does not result in further harm, or suffering trauma by witnesses who appear in court to testify," the AG said.

He said among the reasons why the Government came up with the Witness Protection Act 2006 is the emergence of new forms of organised and complex crimes like terrorism, piracy, cyber crimes, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering, sexual and gender based violence among others.

"Perpetrators of these serious and heinous crimes are hard to prosecute as there is hardly any person willing to testify for fear of reprisals," Prof Muigai said.

He said the country has witnessed acquittals in major cases due to witness intimidation and fear of reprisal if they appear in court to testify.

The AG cited the case of the Kikambala terrorist bombing whereby a witness refused to testify in court unless there was an undertaking by the State to change his identity and relocate him to the United States of America.

Other two witnesses also refused to testify unless they were offered protection, the AG added.

He said successful investigation and prosecution of such crimes require that witnesses are protected from groups that may wish to harm them for cooperating with the law enforcement agencies.

The AG said such witnesses also require to be supported to enable them to testify without fear of harm, intimidation or blackmail.

He also said that collaboration between the WPA and the Media is crucial, as it would ensure threatened witnesses are assisted to access justice in a timely and professional manner.

"These are critical now that the Government has set up a Multi Agency Task Team to speed up the investigation and prosecution of the cases related to the post-election violence," the AG said.

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