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Report No. 198

Part III

Chapter VII

Witness Protection Programme.- A Comparative Study of Programmes in Various Countries

7.0 In the previous Chapter, we have dealt with protection of Witness Identity in various countries. In the present Chapter, we propose to refer to Witness Protection Programmes in various countries.

Statutes dealing with Witness Identity and Anonymity, as noted in the previous Chapter, mainly deal with the protection of witnesses' identity during investigation and trial of criminal cases. However, there are also specialized Witness Protection Programmes which deal with a slightly different kind of protection to witnesses and this refers to their protection outside Court. We shall now proceed to refer to the schemes in various countries.

To start with, it will be useful to refer to the UN Convention in regard to Witness Protection.

There is a 'United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime'. The purpose of this Convention is to promote cooperation to prevent and combat transnational organised crime more effectively. Article 24 of the Convention deals with protection of witness. It reads as follows:-

"Article 2.- Protection of witness'-(1). Each state party shall take appropriate measures within it means to provide effective protection from potential retaliation or intimidation for witnesses in criminal proceedings who give testimony concerning offences covered by this Convention and, as appropriate for their relations and other persons close to them.

(2). The measures envisaged in paragraph of this article may include, inter-alia, without prejudice to the rights of the defendant including the right to due process:

(a) Establishing procedures for the physical protection of such persons, such as to the extent necessary and feasible, relocating them and permitting, where appropriate, non-disclosure or limitations on the disclosure of information concerning the identity and whereabouts of such persons;

(b) Providing evidentiary rules to permit witness testimony to be given in a manner that ensures the safety of the witness, such as permitting testimony to be given through the use of communication technology such as video links or other adequate means;

(3). State parties shall consider entering into agreement or arrangements with other States for the relocation of persons referred to in paragraph 1 of this article.

(4) The provisions of this article shall also apply to victims in so far as they are witnesses."

Witness Identity Protection and Witness Protection Programmes Back

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