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British High Commission highlights the importance of witness security

The British High Commission Pakistan and the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan convened a three-day symposium.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British High Commission highlights the importance of witness security

The event, held in Bhurban, was opened by Mr Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa of the Supreme Court. Prominent judicial and police officials and civil servants attended the symposium. Mr Justice Burgess of the High Court of Northern Ireland and Professor David Ormerod from the Law Commission of England and Wales participated in the symposium as international speakers.

The symposium discussed the recent developments in Pakistan such as the Sindh Witness Protection Act 2013 and an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The Anti-Terrorism Act empowers the court to allow witnesses giving their evidences behind screens or through live-link proceedings.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Justice Burgess of the High Court of Northern Ireland and Professor David Ormerod from the Law Commission of England and Wales highlighted the need to place the witness at the heart of the criminal justice system. They discussed developing procedures which allow for the witness to be kept safe, while still achieving a fair trial for the accused.

Charing the closing session, Mr Justice Ejaz Khan of the Supreme Court recommended the use of a live-link be used in trials where the witness was vulnerable or at risk of intimidation; and recording witness evidence initially on DVD before trials and then cross-examining at courts. He also recommended consideration be given to whether or not new legislation is needed to keep witnesses, whose lives are at risk, anonymous during the criminal process.

Thanking all the participants, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan said that they will be carrying forward discussions on these recommendations.

Contact: Press Attaché, British High Commission, Islamabad; tel. 051-2012000

Published 25 June 2014