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EU and UNODC strengthen the operational capacity of Kenya's Witness Protection Agency

Nairobi, 09 December 2022 – On the eve of Human Rights Day, the challenges and opportunities for safeguarding the dignity of protected witnesses in Kenya was in focus at a high-level event at the Milimani Law Courts. 

Speaking at the event, Ms. Jedidah Waruhiu, Chief Executive of Kenya’s Witness Protection Agency (WPA), said that the importance of witness protection to a peaceful and just society could not be overstated. 

WPA provides special protection to threatened or intimidated witnesses to ensure that their security and welfare is guaranteed when testifying in court. 

“A fair, effective, and efficient criminal justice system is one that respects the fundamental rights and freedoms of witnesses, victims, suspects, accused persons and offenders. It focuses on the need to protect, support and treat these people with compassion and to respect and protect their dignity,” said Ms. Waruhiu.

At the event, H.E Henriette Geiger, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya formally handed over 21 witness protection boxes to WPA and the Judiciary.  

“The European Union, through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya, (PLEAD), will continue to support the fight against serious crimes – including corruption – by reinforcing the protection of threatened witnesses. The support we provide to the Witness Protection Agency through PLEAD, is enabling the Agency to deliver its mandate in the justice chain, while safeguarding safety and the welfare of witnesses,” said Ambassador Geiger.

The custom-made boxes, designed and procured by WPA and UNODC with EU funding, have been installed in court stations across Kenya. Protected witnesses can testify via a video conference link, where those facilities exist, or in-person in a courtroom, as long as their identity is concealed.

International Human Rights Day was marked on 10 December around the world. The 2022 global theme is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All. 

“The technical assistance team from UNODC, in consultation with WPA, seeks to enhance the quality and efficiency of the institution’s service delivery. The main areas of cooperation – made possible with EU funding through PLEAD – are undertaking an equipment needs assessment and procuring vital witness protection equipment, such as the boxes being handed over today, based on the findings, among others,” said Ms. Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, UNODC’s Head of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for Eastern Africa. 

The portable boxes are fitted with voice distortion equipment to optimize witness protection. The box design also enables a witness to identify an accused person without compromising his or her own identity. 

Since October 2022, the boxes have been dispatched and installed at court stations in PLEAD focal counties: Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Tana River, Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa and Lamu Counties. Three of the witness protection boxes are now located at Milimani Law Courts, which is one of the biggest court stations in Kenya. 

Established under The Witness Protection Act, No. 16 of 2006, the WPA is a key actor in the administration of justice in Kenya and is a member of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ), the Advisory Board of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the Victim Protection Board (VPB). It is one of only two fully operational witness protection agencies in Africa alongside South Africa’s Office of Witness Protection (OWP).


More information

UNODC Eastern Africa, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Witness Protection Agency

European Union