Improving witness protection

4 February - UNODC is organizing a regional conference to improve witness protection in Southeast Europe and the Caucasus in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The conference opened today in Athens, Greece, and it will end on Friday, 8 February.

The conference is part of a broader UNODC initiative to work with countries to strengthen their witness protection efforts. Its aim is to promote good practices in this field, facilitate the sharing of experiences among countries in these regions and enhance cross-border cooperation. The conference is primarily aimed at policy makers, operational law enforcement and justice officials from countries of the Southeast European and Caucasus regions, other UN Member States with extensive experience in this field as well as relevant international organizations. NGOs that work in victim witness support have also been invited to contribute their expertise. Representatives from 23 countries are participating in the conference.

The conference was opened by Ms. Dora Bakoyannis, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Jeffrey Avina, Director of the Division for Operations, UNODC.

"The successful operation of witness protection programs provides a unique and valuable tool in the war against major criminal conspirators and organized crime" said Mr. Avina, who also underlined UNODC's commitment to follow up the recommendations made at this conference with tailored assistance programs in this sensitive and important field.