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Report No. 198

Chapter VI

Witness Anonymity and Balancing of Rights of Accuse.- A Comparative Study of Case Law in other Countries

6.1 In this Chapter, we propose to deal with the principles laid down in the judgments of various countries, namely, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America and of the European Court of Human Rights and also the decisions of the United Nation's War Crime Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, on the question of witness protection and anonymity.

A survey of the case law will bring about common aspects as well as the sharp differences in the law laid down in various countries and will also reveal the manner in which the Courts and Tribunals have tried to balance the rights of the accused for a fair trial (which includes right to an open public trial and right to cross examine the witness) on the one hand and the need to grant adequate witness protection or anonymity to witnesses, and in particular about their names and addresses and other details relating to their identity.

(a) 6.2 United Kingdom:

In the United Kingdom, the Courts have laid down that the right to open justice and cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses is not absolute and that witness anonymity or video-screened evidence could be ordered by the Courts under its inherent powers. We shall presently refer to the cases chronologically. Incidentally, we shall also be referring to certain statutes dealing with the subject.

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