KUALA LUMPUR, 16 Dec 2008: The Witness Protection Bill was tabled for its first reading in Parliament today by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
In the proposed bill, a witness could apply to be included in the protection programme.
Besides an individual, an enforcement agency could also ask in writing for a witness to protected.
For a witness below the age of 18, parents or guardians must apply for the child to be included in the programme.
The Witness Protection Bill also details what information a witness is expected to reveal before being accepted in the programme and that includes the witness’s criminal record, ownings, immigration status, and financial liabilities and assets.
The director-general of the programme can also send the witness for a medical, psychological and psychiatric examination to determine suitability for protection.
If the witness is found to have provided false information, the person can be fined up to RM10,000 and be jailed for not more than five years or both. However, only the Attorney General has the final word to decide if a person has to be included in the programme or not.
Witnesses whose application had been rejected can appeal in writing within 14 days.
For those in the programme, a participant registry will be compiled which will have participant details, a new identity (if one is requested), address, previous records and date of participation and leaving of the programme.
No one can have access to the registry except for the minister concerned, the Attorney General and other authorised persons given written permission by the Attorney General.
People can be sentenced to 20 years in jail if they expose how the programme works or if they give information on which officers were involved, unless they had been given written approval to do so.
A person provided with a new identity cannot reveal his or her original identity. A programme participant or ex-participant, if needed to be a witness in a criminal proceeding under the new identity, must declare his status before the proceeding begins.
If the witness’s true identity has to be revealed it must be done in a closed proceeding or an order has to be issued that the true identity not be revealed.
Anyone who flouts the requirement can be fined RM50,000 or jailed up to 10 years or both. — Bernama