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Opinion Leaders Sensitized on Victim Protection Board

Victims of crime will henceforth incur minimal costs in accessing justice as they can now seek the help from the Victim Protection Board.

The board through the Bottom-up Transformation Agenda, gives access to citizens to get news from the government cheaply.

Senior State Counsel Victim Protection Board’s Bildad Keke said the board has enabled access to justice where residents can access justice by spending less.

He spoke in Homa Bay town Friday during a sensitization forum with opinion leaders where he said they wanted to inform the public about the existence of the board and bring visibility in Homa Bay.

“There was a need for visibility so that citizens can understand that there is a body that deals with protection of victims of a crime. They need to know that whenever they are faced with a crime-related problem they need not worry as they can seek help from the Victim Protection Board,” he noted.

Participants were drawn from the inter-faith community, Nyumba Kumi Initiative, people with disabilities (PWDs), the youths and village elders.

The Board which was established by section 31 of the Victim Protection Act of 2014 is mandated to advise the Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to justice on Inter-Agency activities aimed at protecting victims of crime.

It is also charged with the implementation of preventive, protective and rehabilitative programmes for victims of crime.

Led by the team from the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice, they discussed the challenges the leaders encountered while trying to protect the victims.

The Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice is a partner to the board among other partners including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, law enforcement agencies, Civil Society, Directorate of Children Affairs and the National Gender and Equality Commission.

“There were other issues that were also raised in the discussion the most common being the practice of an offender going scot-free after a crime has been reported to the authorities,” said Keke.

Homa Bay residents called for the amendment of the constitution to block any chances of offenders escaping punishment by the law.

Other issues raised were about wife inheritance, assault, rape, illicit brews and enforcement of government directives by village elders.

Keke also noted that the majority of the residents in Homa Bay did not understand who a victim is and witness.

“There is also a misunderstanding about the two. People think that a witness and a victim are one and the same. A victim is one who has suffered harm as a result of a crime,” stated Keke.

The board is also working closely with the Witness Protection Board which is also a partner that exclusively deals with matters relating to protection of a witness.

By Sitna Omar

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