The Witness Protection Agency provides special protection – on behalf of the state – to persons who have important information and are facing potential/real risk or intimidation due to their cooperation with the prosecution, the police and other law enforcement agencies.
The functions of the Agency in terms of Section 3C of the Witness Protection Act are to :-
a) Establish and maintain a Witness Protection Programme;
b) Determine the criteria for admission to and removal from the Witness Protection Programme;
c) Determine the type of protection measures to be applied;
d) Advise a government ministry, department, agency or any other person on adoption of strategies and measures on witness protection; and
e) Perform such functions as may be necessary for the better carrying out of the purpose of this act.
A person qualifies to be protected based on their testimony or if they are related to a witness who requires protection. Protection is only offered to witnesses who need protection from a threat or risk, which exists on account of his or her being a crucial witness.
One qualifies for protection if:
- Has given or agreed to give evidence on behalf of the State
- Has made a statement to the Police or any law enforcement agency in relation to an offence against a law in Kenya
- Is required to give evidence before a court, commission or tribunal outside Kenya, or
- For any other reason may require protection under the Act
The witnesses are protected by the Witness Protection Agency under a special Witness Protection Programme (WPP) managed by the Agency.
The Witness Protection Agency manages a Witness Protection Programme that takes necessary and reasonable actions to protect the safety and welfare of protected persons. This is done through various means including:
- Physical and armed protection
- Relocation; change of identity, or
- Any other measure necessary to ensure the safety of a protected person.
Protection can also be done during court proceedings through:
- Holding in “camera” or closed sessions
- Use of pseudonyms
- Redaction of identifying information
- Use of video link, or
- Employing measures to obscure or distort the identity of the witness.
- Use of witness protection box
The Witness Protection Agency decides on the criteria for admission into and removal from the programme and the type of protection measures.
The Witness Protection Advisory Board oversees the work of the Agency and is chaired by the Solicitor - General. The Board was inaugurated on 12th August 2011 after its establishment under Section 3P of the Witness Protection Act. The principle function of the Board is to advice the Agency generally on the exercise of its powers and the performance of its functions under the Act.
The Director of the Agency will determine the admission of an applicant into the programme and the type of protection to be accorded to the admitted witness. The admission will be guided by the set procedure and criteria. The applicant will be required to fill the necessary application forms.
Application for admission into the witness protection programme may be made by the following persons if they have reason to believe that the safety of a witness or related person may be threatened:
- Any witness and or related person
- An intermediary
- Legal representative
- Parent or legal guardian
- Public prosecutor
- Law enforcement agency
- An application for the protection of a minor can be made by a law enforcement agency without the consent of the person’s parent or guardian.
Any of the persons to whom a report has been made that a witness life is in danger, shall immediately investigate the claims and if found credible:
- Assist such a person with his or her application
- Inform the Director of the Witness Protection
- Agency of the application and Submit the application to the Director or a Witness Protection Officer