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UNODC supports Government of Ethiopia to review Proclamation on Witness Protection and Whistleblowers 

Review of Proclamation on Witness Protection and WhistleblowersBishoftu (Ethiopia), 4 August 2021 – UNODC has been supporting the Government of Ethiopia to review its legislation and policies on Witness Protection and Whistleblowers Proclamation as part of its project on Enhancing Effective and Victim-Centred Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Ethiopia, funded by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

In cases of Trafficking in Persons or child exploitation, especially when perpetrated by organized crime syndicates, the victims of these crimes are often the only people who can provide information to law enforcement entities, or testify to the full inner workings of these syndicates. These victims can usually identify those who recruited them, those who facilitated their confinement and control as well as those who have been exploiting them. This makes these victims critical witnesses to ensure successful investigation and prosecution of these crime, but it also makes them highly vulnerable to intimidation or worse by the perpetrators of these crimes. Hence, protecting witnesses from intimidation or physical harm is essential for successful investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

The United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Trafficking in Persons Protocol) call upon State Parties to introduce appropriate measures to prevent witness intimidation, coercion, corruption or physical injury, and to strengthen international cooperation in this regard. As State Party to UNTOC and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, Ethiopia accordingly incorporated the provisions of these international legal instruments in Proclamation 699/2010. To fully align the legislation with both UNTOC and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the Proclamation and related policy is now being revised with the assistance of UNODC.

From 12 July – 4 August, the Government of Ethiopia and UNODC convened a drafting workshop for the Witness Protection Directorate and Legal Drafting Directorate of the Federal Attorney General Office, the Federal High Court, Advisory Committee and Technical Working Group on Revising Proclamation 699/2010 on Witness Protection and Whistleblowers. The drafting workshop was preceded by various consultations and a legislative assessment in May and June during which the legislation and policies were discussed and assessed for possible deficiencies.

Review of Proclamation on Witness Protection and Whistleblowers 2 2Attended by Deputy Federal Attorney General, Mr. Fikadu Tsega, and President of the Federal High Court, Mr. Berhanemeskel Wogari Eticha, both welcomed the continued support from UNODC and recognized the efforts by UNODC in enhancing a consultative and inclusive process. This was the first drafting workshop during which both prosecutors and judges worked together on witness protection legislation. In turn, during his remarks, Mr.  Johan Kruger, UNODC Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programme for Eastern Africa, thanked the Government of Ethiopia on behalf of UNODC for their continued partnership, especially in countering Transnational Organized Crime, including Trafficking in Persons.

UNODC facilitated discussions and presented the applicable international legal framework, gaps identified in the Proclamation, and recommendations stemming from UNODC’s legislative assessment and consultations with the Government of Ethiopia. UNODC also supported the drafting of policies with respect to victim assistance and witness protection while ensuring the highest possible measures of confidentiality for the Witness Protection Directorate and its personnel in line with international standards. Apart from the legislative and police review process, UNODC will also continue to support the Witness Protection Directorate of the Federal Attorney General Office over the next 3 years through and extensive capacity building programme which will include training, technical advice and procurement in support of the Directorate’s operational mission.

Download the UNODC Handbook on Good Practices for the Protection of Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings involving Organized Crime.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Johan Kruger –

Head of Transnational Organized Crime, Illicit Trafficking and Terrorism Programmes,

UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa