The Draft Bill for the Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses: Critique and Recommendations

Author: Rosalind Sipos?

The provision of victim and witness protection is fundamental to the credibility of any justice system and to the battle against impunity. Asking victims and witnesses to come forward without the provision of protection may indeed be irresponsible in cases where they face the possibility of being re-victimised or becoming victims in their own right by reason of living up to their duty to provide their evidence. For this reason, the drafting of the Draft Bill for the Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses (the ?Draft Bill?)2 by the Law Commission of Sri Lanka is a welcome development in the sphere of rule of law in Sri Lanka. With the widespread impunity in Sri Lanka, Parliament must be urged to adopt the Draft Bill as expeditiously as possible.

However, as the Draft Bill reads at the moment, there are serious concerns as whether it would indeed provide the protection required not only to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward, but also to ensure their safety should they choose to do so. With this concern in mind, this paper will consider some of the concerns with the current form of the Draft Bill and present recommendations for how these concerns could be addressed. While the Draft Bill provides both victim and witness assistance and protection measures, only the protection measures will be considered here as the assistance measures appear to be sufficient.

The Draft Bill for the Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses: Critique and Recommendations

Centre for Policy Alternatives

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in 1996 in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution- and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. Focusing primarily on issues of governance and conflict resolution, CPA is committed to programmes of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated.