KENYA’S WITNESS PROTECTION AGENCY SNUBS ICC WITNESSES
The Witness Protection Agency (WPA) Deputy Director Mr Peter Mwangi said that the witnesses recanting testimonies are under the ICC Victims and Witnesses Unit.
“Prosecution witnesses admitting that they were enticed to testify against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy Mr William Ruto are not under our protection,” Mr Mwangi said.
The Deputy Director also said that President Uhuru and his Deputy Mr Ruto have also never interfered with operations at the Agency.
“I confirm that President Uhuru and Mr Ruto have never meddled with our operations despite having cases at the ICC,” Mr Mwangi said.
Mr Mwangi was speaking during a Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Continuing Professional Development seminar on criminal law at Green Hill Hotel, Nyeri.
The WPA Deputy Director presented a paper titled Witness Protection Programme in Kenya.
ICC Judges have declared hostile three prosecution witnesses in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.
Trial Chamber V (a) said on Thursday it made its decision because Witness 516 had during his testimony diverged “consistently and systematically” from the statement he gave the prosecution in November 2012.
“The ICC Victims and Witnesses Unit has a statutory mandate to provide protection and appropriate assistance to witnesses and victims who appear before it,” Mr. Mwangi said.
The ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence also stipulate that the Victims and Witnesses Unit shall provide witnesses and victims who appear before the Court.
It should also provide adequate security and protective measures for witnesses and victims who are at risk on account their testimonies.
“Witnesses whose lives are deemed to be at risk must be assured of both short and long term protection,” Mr. Mwangi said.
Mr Mwangi said that the WPA has a section that assesses witnesses who claim their lives are at risk before admitting them into its witness protection programme.
“We have rejected over 90 per cent of witnesses who allege that their lives are at risk in a bid to benefit from our programmes,” Mr Mwangi said.
He said that the concern of the Agency is not whether the ICC recanting witnesses were either promised a better life or be resettled.
He said that the agency does not entice witnesses to give evidence in court but provides protection to those whose lives are at risk.
“We offer witness protection at any time – before trial, during trial and even after rulings and judgments in court,” Mr Mwangi said