UNODC Launches Witness Protection Manual

VIENNA , 13 February 2008 (UNODC) - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today launched a manual on "Good Practices in the Protection of Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings Involving Organized Crime". The publication aims at assisting UN Member States develop comprehensive programs for the protection of victims and witnesses of crime.

Speaking at the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, the Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa, said "human trafficking cases are often not prosecuted because of a lack of witnesses. We need to turn victims into witnesses to assist law enforcement. This manual can shield victims from intimidation by criminal groups who try to prevent justice from being done."

Witness protection programs are considered a key tool in the dismantling of human trafficking networks as well as combating other forms of organized crime. The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its associated Protocols against Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants call upon states to take measures to protect victims and witnesses from threats, intimidation, corruption or bodily injury.

The good practices identified in the manual include: early identification of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses; management of witnesses by the police; protection of witness identity during court testimony; and, if necessary, permanent relocation and re-identification. 

The UNODC Good Practices on Witness Protection is available to policymakers, legislators, legal practitioners, senior law enforcement and justice officials around the world. T he aim to help States apply these practical measures into their legal systems and operational procedures.

Full text of the manual (pdf).

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For further information please contact:

Ilias Chatzis, Project Coordinator
Anti-Trafficking Section
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Tel: (+43-1) 26060 5735
Fax: (+43-1) 26060 7 5735
E-mail: ilias.chatzis@unodc.org

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