Witness Protection, Whistle Blower bills see first readings
The Witness Protection Bill of 2016 and the Protected Disclosure (Whistle Blower) Bill of 2016 were, on Friday, read for the first time in the National Assembly by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams S.C.
The Witness Protection Bill seeks to introduce legislations for the protection of witnesses who give evidence in Guyana’s courts. It is part of a Crime and Security Initiative that being led by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The legislation will ensure the protection of witnesses and their families against intimidation and, or physical harm during and after their involvement, in court proceedings. The measure to be enacted includes the establishment of safe houses, the granting of assistance to participants and the provision of new identities, where necessary.
Offences which may give rise to protection under the witness protection programme include murder, manslaughter, treason, sedition, piracy or hijacking, possession or use of firearms, and ammunition with intent to injure. Possession or use of firearms in furtherance of any criminal offence, aggravated assault, shooting or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, robbery, robbery with aggravation, armed robbery, arson, any sexual offence, any drug trafficking offence, any domestic violence offence, any trafficking in person offence, kidnapping offences under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act, offences under the Criminal Law (Offences) Act , offences under the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Act, and offences under the Cyber Crime Act.
Meanwhile, the Whistle Blower Bill seeks to combat corruption and other wrongdoings by encouraging and facilitating disclosures of improper conduct in the public and private sectors, to protect persons making those disclosures from detrimental action, to establish the Protected Disclosures Commission to receive, investigate, or otherwise deal with disclosures of improper conduct and to provide for other related matters.
According to the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Bill marks another step by the Government towards full compliance with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. The Bill would assist in combating corruption and other wrongdoing, both in the public and private sector by encouraging and facilitating the making of specified disclosures of improper conduct in good faith, and in the public interest. The Bill also seeks to protect persons making those disclosures from detrimental action and to establish the Protected Disclosures Commission, to deal with disclosures of improper conduct. (GINA/DPI)