The Public Prosecutions Division of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Ministry of Justice has noted that the passage of the Witness Protection Act will assist state prosecutors in investigations.
The Division noted that getting witnesses testify in cases had proven difficult because of fear of victimization, which affected the speed with which cases were tried.
“Effective investigation thrives on vital information so if persons with the information are willing to provide that, then they must be protected”, Ms Victoria Asieduwaa, Principal State Attorney at the Public Prosecutions Department of the Ministry, said.
Speaking at a sensitization workshop on the Witness Protection Act for state prosecutors, in Accra last Thursday, she said “we have serious challenges in dealing with witnesses because some of the cases have serious implication for witnesses, their families and their communities.”
Ms Asieduwaa said “At times you arrange a witness for court only for him to tell you on the day of hearing that he or she can’t come if you don’t send them money but this new Act has provisions to address all that.”
She, therefore, urged participants, including personnel from legal department of selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and anti-graft agencies, to throw their weight behind the Act for same to be implemented effectively.
Mrs Mavis Amoa, the Director in charge of Legislative Drafting Division at the Ministry, said the passage of the Act was necessary because Ghana was a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption.
She underscored the importance of witnesses to the fight against crime, hoping that the Act would address the phenomenon of witnesses shying away from court for fear of their lives.
Chief Director of the Ministry, Alhaji Suleiman Ahmed, said MDAs had a role to play in the fight against crime and corruption, which he said were “destructive to the economy”.
Per the framework of the Act, a Witness Protection Agency is to be established to cater for the welfare of witnesses, who risk their lives to testify against alleged criminals in court.
The welfare package would include finances to support their movement to and from court, relocation, and change of identity if the need be to insulate the witness from revenge from persons they may testify against.