ICC Seeks Ways To Protect Witnesses

Mrs Marrieta Brew Appiah-Opong(fourth from right), in a group photograph with the participants.Photo.Ebo GormanA high-level seminar to foster cooperation among member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is underway in Accra.

The two-day seminar is primarily meant to discuss issues concerning the protection of court witnesses.

It is being organized by the ICC, in collaboration with the Norwegian and Dutch Embassies in Ghana and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General.

Opening the seminar yesterday, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mrs. Marrietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, proposed a national policy on protection of witnesses.

She said it was time for the nation to build a strong legal framework that would ensure the safety of witnesses during and after their testimony before the courts.

The Minister said the policy would not only serve as a law to protect witnesses but would also embolden persons, who would want to give testimonies in cases to do so without fear and intimidation.

She said as a nation it behooves the state to provide protection, support and other appropriate assistance to witnesses and victims who appear before the courts.

Mrs. Appiah-Oppong commended the ICC for organizing the meeting and urged it to continually support member states in building a strong legal system that would protect the interest of its courts.

The first Vice-President of ICC, Justice Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, said it was of necessity that countries around the globe develop a legal system that ensures a safe and a just world.

She said heinous crimes including rape, apartheid, murder, and other acts that violate the fundamental rights of people should be tackled with a more concrete approach.

That, she said must start with the implementation of legislations that protect the rights of persons and the courage to condemn deviant acts.

Justice Monageng said protecting witnesses was one sure way of ending heinous crime perpetuated against humanity and, therefore, urged member states to build a national capacity programme to sensitize people about it.

She said protection for witnesses should be aimed at minimizing and managing any risk that might be faced by witnesses and victims who appear before the courts resulting from their interaction with the court.

She said member states should also provide witnesses and others, who are at risk on account of testimony, with adequate protective and security measures and formulate long-and short-term plans for their protection. By Charles Amankwa and Emelia Enyonam Kuleke

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