Report No. 198
In Canada 'Witness Protection Programme Act, 1996' (C.15) has been enacted. The Act is enacted to provide for the establishment and operation of a programme to enable certain persons to receive protection. As per section 2, 'protection' is defined as including relocation, accommodation and change of identity as well as counselling and financial support. As per section 3, the purpose of the Act is to promote lawenforcement by facilitating the protection of persons who are involved in providing assistance in law enforcement matters.
In order to facilitate the protection of a witness, a programme known as the Witness Protection Programme is established under section 4. The programme is being administered by the Commissioner of the Force. The Commissioner may determine whether a witness should be admitted to the programme and the type of protection to be provided to any protectee.
Under section 6(1) a witness can be admitted to the programme only if
(a) the law enforcement agency or an international criminal court or tribunal has made a recommendation for the purpose of admission.
(b) the witness has provided the Commissioner of the Force, such information concerning the personal history of the witness which enables the Commissioner to consider the factors referred to in section 7.
(c) the agreement has been entered into by or on behalf of the witness with the Commissioner setting out the obligations of both parties.
However, under section 6(2) in case of emergency, the Commissioner may provide protection upto 90 days to a person who has not entered into a protection agreement referred above. The factors which have to be considered by the Commissioner while determining whether a witness should be admitted to the programme are set out in section 7 as follows:
(a) the nature of the risk to the security of the witness;
(b) the danger to the community if the witness is admitted to the Programme;
(c) the nature of the inquiry, investigation or prosecution involving the witness and the importance of the witness in the matter;
(d) the value of the information or evidence given or agreed to be given or of the participation by the witness;
(e) the likelihood of the witness being able to adjust to the Program, having regard to the witness's maturity, judgment and other personal characteristics and the family relationships of the witness;
(f) the cost of maintaining the witness in the Program;
(g) alternative methods of protecting the witness without admitting the witness to the Program; and
(h) such other factors as the Commissioner deems relevant.
The obligations under the protection agreement are narrated in section
8. The obligations are as follows:
(a) on the part of the Commissioner, to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to provide the protection referred to in the agreement to the protectee; and
(b) on the part of the protectee,
(i) to give the information or evidence or participate as required in relation to the inquiry, investigation or prosecution to which the protection provided under the agreement relates,
(ii) to meet all financial obligations incurred by the protectee at law that are not by the terms of the agreement payable by the Commissioner,
(iii) to meet all legal obligations incurred by the protectee, including any obligations regarding the custody and maintenance of children,
(iv) to refrain from activities that constitute an offence against an Act of Parliament or that might compromise the security of the protectee, another protectee or the Program, and
(v) to accept and give effect to reasonable requests and directions made by the Commissioner in relation to the protection provided to the protectee and the obligations of the protectee.
As per section 11(1), any information about the location or change of identity of a protectee or former protectee cannot be disclosed by any person. However, under section 11(2) a protectee or former protectee may disclose such information which does not endanger the safety of another protectee or former protectee and does not compromise the integrity of the programme. Further, under section 11(3) the Commissioner of Force may disclose information of the kind mentioned above, in certain circumstances as stated below:
(a) with the consent of the protectee,
(b) when the protectee has previously disclosed such information; or
(c) when the disclosure is essential in the public interest; or
(d) where the disclosure is essential to establish the innocence of a person, in a criminal proceeding.
Under section 13, a person whose identity has been changed as a consequence of the protection, shall not be held liable or punished for making a claim that the new identity is and has been the person's only identity.
Under section 14, the Commissioner may enter into an agreement with a law enforcement agency or with the Attorney General of Province to enable a witness, who is involved in activities of such law enforcement agency or the Force of such province, to be admitted for the Witness Protection Programme. Apart from this, the Commissioner may also enter into an agreement with any provincial authority in order to obtain documents and other information that may be required for the protection of a protectee.
As per sub sections (2) and (3) of the section 14, the Minister (Solicitor General of Canada) may enter into a reciprocal agreement with the Government of a foreign jurisdiction or with an International Court or tribunal to enable a witness who is involved in activities of a law enforcement agency in that jurisdiction of a foreign country or in activities of that court or tribunal, as the case may be, to be admitted to the Witness Protection Programme.
The protection of witness provided under this Act, may be terminated by the Commissioner of Force.