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Sunday September 29, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday September 29, 2013 MYT 11:15:43 AM
by nurbaiti hamdan
KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer has warned of a risk of false witnesses taking advantage of the witness identity protection under the proposed Section 265A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
Datuk N. Sivananthan, 47, said although the basis of the proposed amendment was to encourage witnesses to come forward to give evidence, their anonymity must be used in the rarest of situation.
“It must not be used all the time. The danger is when irresponsible people take advantage of the situation and come forward as false witnesses because their names and faces are protected,” he said.
On Wednesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law Datuk Nancy Shukri tabled the proposed amendments to the CPC in Parliament.
Among the proposed amendments was for the protection of witness identity under the new Section 265A where the public prosecutor may issue an identity protection certificate for a witness to give evidence in camera.
It was also proposed under Section 265A(5) that if a witness fears his voice may be recognised, the court may allow his voice to be distorted when giving evidence.
Meanwhile, under Section 265B, it was proposed for a protected witness to give evidence in camera to carry out identification of an accused or any other person via an interpreter or a court officer.
Those who compromise the protected identity of a witness may be punished with a RM10,000 fine and jail term not exceeding five years.
Sivananthan said some provision must be provided for a judge to see the protected witness despite the amendment pushing for the witness to be concealed from the public eye.
“The judge must be able to see the witness to observe his or her demeanour. This is one of the factors for the judge to decide whether the witness is believable or otherwise,” he said.
Sivananthan also welcomed the proposed amendment under the new Section 7A of the Prevention of Crime Act where the public prosecutor may apply to the courts for an electronic monitoring device to be attached to an accused to be released on bail.
“However my concern is that such technology needs professional supervision by competent personnel.
“This is a good thing as the current system puts a lot of people under remand. Some of them spend a long time in remand and end up being acquitted of the crime, and all that time in remand was because they could not afford bail,” he said, adding that such a device was common in the United States.
Tags / Keywords:
Courts & Crime, witness identity protection, proposed amendment, criminal procedure code, electric monitoring device
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