KARACHI: Given than over 73% of acquittals are linked to a lack of testimony or hostile witnesses, it was small wonder that several speakers at a conference on law and terrorism stressed the absolute need for witness protection programmes in Pakistan.
Witnesses need protection from government agencies to minimise and manage any risk they face for appearing in court. “Many of the accused are high-level political and anti-social elements, including the Taliban, who are charged with planning crimes and ordering others to commit them,” said Mustafa Lakhani in his paper.
“The majority of witnesses who come before the court are people who survive and witness a crime. Many of them are suffering physical and psychological trauma.” A court’s decision in criminal cases is largely based on witnesses, he added.
Yousuf Moulvi also dwelt at length on the topic, pointing out that it is being noted that witnesses are reluctant to testify against people with muscle, money or political power. “Without a proper system of witness protection, justice would be denied to the complainant party.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2012.