Kenya: without protection witnesses threaten no-show

Kenya: without protection witnesses threaten no-show

by / 11 Comments / 36 View / 26th June 2010

Potential eye witnesses of the ’08 post-election violence are warning they will not testify if their safety is not guaranteed. The government is yet to operationalise a witness protection programme that will enable prosecution by the international criminal court (ICC) of those responsible for the violence.

Their fears were further confirmed by a Nairobi based international lobby group, which accuses the government in a statement of reluctance to implement the law which was ironically passed by parliament two years ago.

The international center for policy and conflict(ICPC) notes in its statement that, ‘this raises serious concerns about the ability and commitment of the government of … to fulfill its obligations under international law to bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes of post-election violence.’

Adding, ‘this delay is yet another clear reaffirmation of lack political will on the part of the government to prosecute the serious crimes that were committed during post-election violence.’

The group is appealing to the international community to intervene and help in relocating potential witnesses to other countries.

ICPC is concerned that the failure of the authorities to protect witnesses and victims could not only seriously compromise prosecution, but ultimately deny the victims of these violations their right to justice.

‘If Kenya wants to show that it is willing and able to conduct credible violence crime trials it must effectively protect victims and witnesses from intimidation and harassment,’ the statement signed by ICPC executive director Ndung’u Wainaina read.

Experts have in the past argued that the issue of victims and witness protection needs to be urgently addressed in the wider context of a comprehensive review of the Kenyan criminal justice system.

Although such reforms have been announced for several years now, few concrete measures have been taken so far to ensure that the Kenyan police and judiciary are capable of investigating and trying such complex and sensitive cases.