Saturday, 15 June 2019 00:00

THE LAUNCH OF THE VICTIM’S RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT GUIDE LINES & WITNESS PROTECTION GUIDELINES Featured

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THE LAUNCH OF THE VICTIM’S RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT GUIDE LINES WITNESS PROTECTION GUIDELINES 

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in partnership with UNHCR has this morning launched two important books, that is; the witness protection guidelines and the victims’ rights and empowerment guidelines for prosecutors.

At the moment, there is no legislation in Uganda to provide for the protection of witnesses. Internationally, the UN convention against corruption, and transnational organized crime together with the Rome statute domesticated as the international criminal court Act, mandates all the state parties to put in place mechanisms to ensure the safety of witnesses. The government of Uganda through the Uganda law reform commission has since 2009 been working on legislation to cater for witness protection which is to date still work in progress.

 

In a nation that lacks a national witness protection framework, witnesses have no security assurance and are therefore afraid of testify in the courts of laws; this in turn hinders access to justice, fair trial and accountability for human rights violations combating impunity.

The ODPP in implementing its mandate has put up a number of measures to ensure it operates under a victim centered approach and also has made an attempt towards protecting victims of crime. The measures include, the creation of a fully-fledged department of witness protection and victim empowerment, which also among others, receives and addresses complaints or concerns that are raised by the public regarding criminal proceedings

Having realized the need to emphasize a victim centered approach in the ODPP and need to protect witnesses in order to efficiently and effectively execute its mandate; the ODPP partnered with the UN office of the High commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR) which supported the ODPP in a study to review the assistance of victims programmes and complaints handling mechanism in the ODPP. The study among others, recommended the development and adoption of standard guidelines for prosecutors.

 

The guidelines are meant to assist prosecutors to determine the witness protection perimeters and the scope of protection (in the absence of legislation); they are also designed to put in place a standard procedure to handle the victims of crime and to assist the prosecutors to appreciate the notion of the victims’ rights and how to have them realized during investigations, at trial and after trial.

 

It is from the above background that the ODPP is proud to launch these prosecutors’ guidelines. The prosecutors are urged to strictly observe these guidelines when handling victims and witnesses of crime at all stages of the case, as we await for the witness protection law.  

The ODPP calls upon all  law enforcement officers, representatives of the government , Heads of missions present, members of CSOs, academia and the general public to  advocate for the witness protection law to be passed so that the security of our witnesses  is guaranteed.

Read 508 times Last modified on Sunday, 25 August 2019 09:51
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