Lack of witnesses in the criminal court proceedings has been cited as a pushback in the efficiency that the judicial system is fighting for.
The concern has been raised by the Office of Director of Public Prosecution during a consultative forum in Mombasa that brought together human rights defenders, National governmental officials as well as representation from Kenya Prisons.
According to the ODPP Coast regional coordinator Alloys Kemo, delivery of justice has been hindered due to the members of the public failing to appear before a court as witnesses for fear of victimization.
“The major challenge that we face as the ODPP is that most of the witnesses in criminal related cases do not appear in court to testify leaving most cases unresolved. We need to have a proper structure that will strengthen the public relationship with the judicial institution so as to ensure effective judicial services are arrived at,” he said.
He further noted the need to build trust within the system in order to have witnesses honor the court summons.
On his part, Mombasa County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo deliberated on areas of concern in averting crime as well as maintaining peace and security stressing that it needs a holistic approach.
Addressing the participants in the forum dubbed ‘Promoting Dignity and Human Rights Duties in Preventing Violent and Countering Extremism’ implemented by Haki Africa in partnership with the ODPP, Kitiyo indicated that they are gradually getting a grip of security matters in Mombasa.
This has been informed by the reduction of the crime rate over the past six months.
He applauded the continuous engagement and joint efforts among various stakeholders within the justice system and human rights defenders that played a major role in coming up with ways to counter violent extremism issues.
“We are not yet out of the woods, we need to work together and strengthen our networks to ensure we get rid of all the criminal gangs in Mombasa and keep the residents safe. Those found culpable, the law should take its course. this can also be achieved if we have witnesses coming forth to testify,” he added.
Mr. Kitiyo pointed out that petty crimes including pickpocketing, Mpesa robberies currently witnessed in Mombasa County can easily be handled if people share information when needed.
The CC wants justice actors to ensure that Kenyans can easily access justice at the courts.
Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid says due to concerted efforts juvenile gangs have drastically reduced.
“The strategies put in place by the law enforcement officers have contributed to the decrease in crime rate in Mombasa County,” the human rights defender explained.
Khalid pointed out that the organization is working closely with the judicial system to address the land question in the Coast region that has been affiliated with unrest in many forms and shapes.