ALOR SETAR (Bernama): Awareness of the witness protection programme in this country is still low, resulting in witnesses refusing to testify in court as they fear for their safety.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said although the Witness Protection Act 2009 had been there for long, it needed to be constantly publicised for the benefit of witnesses, particularly in criminal cases.
He said taking part in the programme would ensure that witnesses could properly testify, without being fearful of the accused or any party.
"Witnesses are an important element (in prosecuting), they can help the government ensure that those who have committed a crime face the court and assist the prosecution to achieve the outcome hoped for.
"We don't want any case to escape (the law) when there's no witness daring to come forward because he or she feels threatened," he said when officiating at the Witness Protection Act 2009 Outreach Programme at the Kedah state police contingent police headquarters here Thursday (April 25).
Later, at a news conference, Hanipa said the identity of individuals applying to participate in the witness protection programme would not be revealed in order to protect them.
He said the witnesses would also be fully protected starting from before, during and after the trial and the protection would also be extended to their family members.
He added that witnesses who were required to testify in court would have to apply in writing to the director-general of the Protection Division to be placed in the programme.
The protection provided for witnesses include accommodation, resettlement, new job, subsistence (not reward) and new identity. - Bernama
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