A witness protection programme that will include safe houses and new identities for people who give testimony in court in sensitive cases, is being established by the Guyana government. Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman said a Witness Protection Bill 2015, under which that would be made possible, will be tabled before the National Assembly soon.
Yesterday, Trotman disclosed that the legislation is in draft stage and, once completed, “will ensure protection of witnesses and their families against intimidation, and/or physical harm, during and after their involvement in court proceedings.” He also said that the Bill would address issues such as the establishment of safe houses and providing new identities where necessary.
“It is really more of a CARICOM crime and security initiative by our security officers. Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados have already started working with each other, where they move witnesses . . . before, during and after trials, within each other’s countries, and I have no doubt that Guyana will avail itself of the opportunity to do so,” the minister said.
Trotman shared that the effort by Guyana will also be supported by the international community. While addressing the attendees of the post-Cabinet press conference, Trotman also indicated that another piece of “protection” legislation was in the works. He said the Tobacco Protection Bill, which will provide for the adoption and implementation of tobacco control policies “to protect this and future generations from the use of and exposure to tobacco smoke”, will also be tabled in Parliament shortly.
Currently, both Bills are being reviewed and they are expected to be finalized by a special sub-committee, appointed by Cabinet, before final submission to the National Assembly.