Functions of the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya
The functions of the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya are vital for witness protection purposes. The Witness Protection Agency in Kenya is a body corporate established under the Witness Protection Act.
As a body corporate, the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya has perpetual succession. It also has a common seal and, in its corporate name, can be capable of:
- suing and being sued;
- holding and alienating movable and immovable property;
- borrowing and lending money; and
- doing or performing all such other acts or things as a body corporate can do lawfully.
The objects and purpose of the Agency are to provide the 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 co-operation with the prosecution and other law enforcement agencies.
The purpose of the Witness Protection Programme is to accord witnesses and related protected people an opportunity to participate in bringing to justice against perpetrators of crimes by delivering their evidence to law enforcement agencies or testifying in judicial proceedings.
The nature of the special protection should entail the power of the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya to acquire, store, maintain and control firearms and ammunition and electronic or other necessary equipment, despite the provisions of any other law.
The functions of the Witness Protection Agency according to Section 3C of the Witness Protection Act are to:-
- establish and maintain a witness protection programme;
- determine the criteria for admission to and removal from the witness protection programme;
- determine the type of protection measures to be applied;
- advise any Government Ministry, department, agency or any other person on the adoption of strategies and measures on witness protection; and
- perform such other functions as may be necessary for the better carrying out of the purpose of the Witness Protection Act.
The Witness Protection Agency has the power to—
- control and supervise its staff in a manner and for such purposes as may be necessary for the promotion of the purpose and the object for which the Agency is established;
- administer the funds and assets of the Agency;
- receive any grants, gifts, donations or endowments and make legitimate disbursement therefrom;
- enter into association with such other persons, bodies, or organizations within or outside Kenya as it may consider desirable or appropriate in furtherance of its object and purpose;
- enter into confidential agreements with relevant foreign authorities, international criminal courts or tribunals and other regional or international entities relating to the relocation of protected persons and other witness protection measures;
- open bank accounts for the funds of the Agency;
- collect, analyze, store and disseminate information related to witness protection;
- give such instructions to a protected person as the Agency may consider necessary;
- search the protected person and their property and seize items regarded by the Agency to be a threat to the protected person or another person or the integrity of the programme;
- summon a public officer or other people to appear before it or to produce a document or thing or information which may be considered relevant to the functions of the Witness Protection Agency within a specified period of time and in such manner as it may specify;
- invest the funds of the Agency not currently required for its purpose.
In performing the functions of the Witness Protection Agency, the Agency works with diverse stakeholders. The stakeholders are Government departments, agencies and ministries including the following:
The Agency works closely with the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice to protect the rule of law and promote human rights. The Attorney General is the Chairperson of the Witness Protection Advisory Board that provides oversight to the Agency.
Parliament plays a key role in ensuring that its members discuss and pass all legislation pertaining to witness protection before it’s assented to by the Head of State into law.
The Judiciary is a key stakeholder with the Agency in helping deliver justice in line with the constitution. The Agency collaborates with the Judiciary through the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) in offering witness protection and security-related programmes.
Realization of the Witness Protection Programme (WPP) is fully sustained through funding from the National Treasury. This ensures that all financial activities of the Agency are undertaken in line with guidelines set by Treasury.
The Agency works in collaboration with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) to propagate a strong and vibrant human rights culture founded on equality and social justice for all.
This ensures that Kenya becomes a state governed by laws, policies, practices and values anchored on international human rights standards and expectations.
The ultimate goal is to increase respect for and greater enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The chairperson of KNCHR is also a board member of the Witness Protection Advisory Board.
The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) acts as the principal organ of the state in ensuring compliance with all treaties and conventions ratified in all national and county policies, laws, and administrative regulations in all public and private institutions.
It monitors, facilitates and advice on the integration of the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination.
The National Intelligence Service identifies conditions that threaten Kenya’s social, economic and political stability. It develops techniques and strategies to neutralize such threats.
The NIS Director General also sits on the Board of the Witness Protection Agency.
Provides professional and people-centred police service through community partnership and upholding rule of law for a safe and secure society. The Police provide a key focal point for recording statements and providing security.
The key mandate of Kenya Prison Service is to contain and keep offenders in safe custody, rehabilitate and reform offenders. The service also facilitates the administration of justice and promotes prisoners opportunities for social re-integration.
The Commissioner of Prisons is also a member of the Witness Protection Agency Board.
It is also known as the Office of the Ombudsman that has the mandate of enforcing administrative justice and the promotion of constitutional values. It accomplishes this through effective complaints handling and dispute resolution.
The Department caters for the welfare of children and protects them from all forms of violation that touch on their rights.
The Kenya Law Reform Commission facilitates law reform conducive to social, economic and political development. The core function is to review the laws of Kenya and ensure their unification and codification.
The mandate of ODPP as derived from Article 157 of the Constitution is to institute and undertake the prosecution of criminal proceedings against any person before a court.
ODPP refers most witnesses that have a crucial testimony but are under serious threat to Witness Protection Agency for protection.
The National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) co-ordinates state and non-state actors in the justice sector through a mechanism of partners to improve the administration of justice. NCAJ also co-ordinates Court Users Committees (CUCs) which take place in court stations throughout the country.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) combats and prevents corruption and economic crime in Kenya through law enforcement, preventive measures, public education and promotion of standards and practices of integrity, ethics and anti-corruption.
Partners of the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya include the following:
The Civil Society collaborates with the Witness Protection Agency in addressing incidences of criminal injustices. They usually employ mechanisms of seeking redress in the criminal justice system to pursue the perpetrators of crime.
Human rights defenders are the pillars through which checking of violation of fundamental human rights occurs. They ensure that the rule of law and respect to constitutional obligations prevails.
Development Partners are key in enhancing symbiotic partnerships and collaborations with the Witness Protection Agency. Their support to various Agency programmes ensures the bridge of the budgetary deficit from Treasury.
A vital witness who needs protection from threat or risk because of his/her testimony in Court proceedings, Tribunal and/or Commission. The Agency may extend this protection to the direct family members of the protected witness.
The Witness Protection Agency in Kenya accepts referrals from the following:**
- A vital and threatened witness
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
- Inspector – General, National Police Service or a member of the Police Force
- Kenya Prison Service
- Law Enforcement Agencies
- A legal representative or any other intermediary
- Courts, Tribunals or Commissions
- Human rights defenders
- International Courts, Tribunals or Commissions
For more about the Witness Protection Agency in Kenya, visit its website at wpa.go.ke.