Witness protection Bill 2017 goes through second reading


The Witness Protection Bill 2017 has gone through the second reading on the floor of Parliament for the committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs working on the Bill to finalize its inputs


Presenting the report to the House, Chairman of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah Banda noted that the Committee considers whether the provision of the Bill conforms to the relevant provisions of the 1992 Constitution.

The Honourable Member of Parliament for Effutu, Mr. Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin stated that testimony of witnesses in criminal investigations is critical to the work of intelligence agencies and the Police, tasked with the maintenance of law and order and safeguarding the security of the nation.

He again indicated that the protection of witnesses in criminal proceedings should be a topmost priority and the Bill should be able to provide such protection.

He further explained that, “notwithstanding the protection of witnesses in criminal proceedings, witnesses in civil proceedings must also be considered because such persons’ life may equally be in danger. One side of protection will not be enough and we look forward, one day that a bill protecting witnesses in civil proceedings will be laid before Parliament”.

Most Members of Parliament who commented stated the importance of the Bill and proposed 32 amendments to the Bill.

The Purpose of the Bill is to establish a Witness Protection Agency to administer a witness protection programme to protect witnesses, experts and their relatives against potential intimidation as a result of their cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

The passage of the Bill into law would enable Ghana to fulfil one of the key obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by implementing a witness protection programme in Ghana.

Per Article 32 of the UNCAC, Ghana as a State Party to the Convention is required to take appropriate measures to provide effective protection to witnesses including relocation of witnesses and their families, police escort to hearings, testifying in-camera, adoption of new identities and provision of temporary residences.

The Bill is made up of sixty provisions.

Source: GhanaJustice/S.Ayisi