13 December 2018, Peshawar. UNODC in collaboration with NACTA and the Home Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has developed a Policy Options Guideline on Witness Protection. The guideline looks at the existing legal frameworks of Punjab and Sindh, while incorporating international best practices for providing protection to witnesses, especially in terrorism related cases.
A Validation Workshop was organized to present these options to relevant stakeholders in the province on 13 December 2018 in Peshawar. The Home Secretary KP, Head of Cooperation European Union Mission in Pakistan, Director General Prosecution Services KP, officers from the provincial police, prosecution, prisons, and judiciary; and UNODC representatives participated therein.
In his opening remarks Home Secretary Mr. Ikram Ullah Khan stated it was the role of the state to protect witnesses to encourage them to contribute in bringing offenders to justice, especially in terrorism cases. He said there was a need to bring about legislation to achieve this. He appreciated the support of the European Union and UNODC in providing assistance to the Government of KP in this regard.
The Head of Cooperation EU Mission averred that reforms in the criminal justice system would improve the public's confidence in government.
In conclusion Mr. Arslan Syed, Programme Advisor PACT, outlined the process of developing these policy option guidelines, and thanked the Government of KP and NACTA for their cooperation and support.
Following the opening session Mr. Faisal Khan, UNODC Consultant, made a presentation to the participants on the developed policy options. The participants endorsed the guidelines, and acknowledged that effective legislation was long overdue; and would increase the confidence of witnesses in the system and improve the quality of justice. One participant, a police officer, commented that such legislation should also ensure that the rights of the accused are protected.
The prosecutors present noted that witnesses being open to attack enroute to giving testimony, the use of protection measures highlighted in the policy options - such as screens and video links - would prevent such incidents.
There was consensus amongst the participants that the legislation was necessary, and should be passed with the concurrence of all involved stakeholders.
This activity was made possible with the support of the European Union under the project entitled 'Pakistan's Action to Counter Terrorism' (PACT).