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The Legislative Brief on Sindh Witness Protection Act 2013 provides a framework for protection of witnesses in the province to ensure a safe and secure environment for presenting their testimony in criminal trials. This Act holds crucial significance especially with respect to trials of terrorism where suspects are usually acquitted due to lack of evidence – such evidence is mostly based on witness testimonies.
This Legislative Brief analyses weaknesses of implementation of the 2013 Act; lack of budgets for establishing an infrastructure for witness protection, and lack of safeguards against disclosure of witnesses’ personal details. The brief discusses removal of a protected person from the Witness Protection Programme and provides comparison of this Act with Witness Protection Legislation in other countries.
However, despite the enactment of this law, it has not been implemented in practice; the requisite funds for establishment of the Witness Protection Unit have not been released till date.
Recommendation for reforms in the current legislative framework of Sindh for improved implementation of the 2013 Act include establishment of an oversight committee, allocation of a realistic and adequate budget for witness protection; speedy trials to minimise risk to ‘threatened’ witnesses, and introducing measures to ensure identities and whereabouts of witnesses are always protected.
“Reforms in Rule of Law in Pakistan” is supported by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) under the Enhanced Democratic Accountability and Civic Engagement (EDACE) project.