GOOD PRACTICE IN WITNESS PROTECTION LEGISLATION
This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union.
Could you please provide examples of good practices in witness protection legislation?
1. Key features of witness protection legislation
2. Country examples
Successful law enforcement and anti-corruption strategies depend on the willingness and ability of individuals to provide information and give evidence in a court of law. As witnesses can be subjected to threats and intimidation from criminals who attempt to obstruct the course of justice, witness protection programmes can be a powerful tool complementing whistleblower protection.
While originally designed for serious crimes involving organised crime, most legislation includes corruption under the offences covered by their witness protection legislation. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) also calls upon state parties to take appropriate measures for the protection of witnesses, experts and victims against retaliation or intimidation as a result of their testimony. These may include measures to ensure the physical and psychological protection of witnesses as well as for providing evidentiary rules allowing a witness to testify in a manner that ensures his/her safety.
At minimum, legislation should specify the authority responsible for the programme’s implementation, admission/termination criteria and procedures, the protection measures that may be used and the rights and obligations of the parties; ensure that the programme’s operations are confidential; and provide adequate penalties for the disclosure of information about protection arrangements or about the identity or location of the protected witness.
AuthorsMarie Chêne, Transparency International, [email protected]