Centre for Policy Alternatives on 9 October, 2007

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

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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