Report No. 198
7.11 Germany and Italy:
These countries have witness protection programmes. They also use certain procedures in order to prevent witnesses from being endangered. It is possible, in these countries, to use statement of anonymous witnesses as evidence in the Court, although convictions may not be based on anonymous testimony alone. The witness does not have to state his name/address though the Judge is informed. In Germany, anonymous witnesses are not accepted in cases of offences that cause damage to individuals, but is accepted only in cases of serious organized crime.
The fact that independent witnesses as well co-accused are willing to cooperate in providing evidence against their comrades makes witness programme a must.
MOU: Witness protection services in the above two countries also make use of MOUs. It is not a formal contract, which refers to the witness's conduct. To maintain complete secrecy, the person is not given a copy of the MOU.
The conditions for admission to the programme are that the person is involved, as victim or witness, in a case of serious crime, there is danger to the person or family or to close relatives, and the individual voluntarily enters the programme and is suited to participate in the programme.
In an urgent case, protection measures can be taken in those countries by providing the individual or his relatives a secret place located in another part of the countr.- say a hotel or a police office or tenement or other public building. If the person is himself a suspect in several crimes, he is placed in a prison. It is stressful for the candidate and his family to seek to enter a programme. In some countries the protection extends during trial, may go upon 2 years to 5 years. Change in identity is also involved. Witness protection is expensive because of salaries of staff, removal of persons to another location, economic subsistence, housing and medical costs.
In the above two countries, the programmes have been very effective. They have resulted in conviction of numerous leaders and also members of organized crime.