It has become very essential to prepare a scheme for providing assistance and protection to victims who would be required by the Commission to assist in achieving objectives set out in the mandate. Such a scheme has never existed in the criminal justice system in
The desire to implement victim friendly procedure is strengthened by the fact that the draft bill recognizing rights of victims and witnesses is under consideration by the government of
The Commission is also aware that the victims and witnesses, who provide evidence and material to the Commission, are likely to be called as witnesses in potential judicial proceedings in courts of law. Therefore the Commission is also very concerned not to take any measures that would impinge upon principles concerning fair trial.
In drawing up the scheme, therefore the Commission has to make a delicate balance between the rights of victims, rights of suspects, fair trial concept and the availability of resources.
Procedure and Guidelines
Method and Contents of Communication
1. It shall be necessary for the Commissioners to make a decision about the commencement of an investigation.
2. The decision must be communicated to the Investigation Unit in writing.
3. The Commissioners either directly or through Chief Investigator shall communicate in writing to the Head of the Victim and Witness Assistance Unit (VWAPU) about their decision and list of victims and witnesses on whom the Commission, the investigators or any other officer in the Commission wish to have access.
4. The initial communication or the subsequent communication prepared by the Chief investigator should furnish following particulars enabling officers in the VWAPU to facilitate the functions of the Commission and the Investigation Unit by providing assistance and protection to victims and witnesses as these particulars would be essential in assessing the level of risk and the necessity of the protection and the assistance. A necessary form is prepared for this purpose.
b. Relevant Police division
c. Relevant Gramaseveka /AGA division
d. Other contact details:
a. Telephone No:
b. Fax No :
c. E mail address:
d. Any other source:
e. Brief account of the potential evidence or information that the Victim or the witness might provide
f. Reason for the necessity of interviewing the victim or the Witness
g. The nature of the access the Investigators would wish to have with the Victim or the Witness
h. In the opinion of the investigator the sources from which the intimidation, harassment and retaliation could emanate
i. The possible nature of intimidation, harassment and retaliation
j. The possible nature of fear, obstruction, undue hardship or hindrance
k. The background and the identity of the alleged perpetrators of the serious violation of the human rights
l. Whether the alleged perpetrators have direct or indirect links with the members of the armed forces, police, any other person in authority or non state actors, organizations or groups? if so their identity
m. Whether the victims or witness have communicated to any authority about any fear or intimidation and the need for the protection and the assistance.
n. Suggestions and views of the investigators regarding the level of protection and the assistance that should be provided.
5. The Commission shall provide all or part of the dossier of investigation or other material to the Head of the VWAPU, if the Commissioners deem it appropriate to do so.
Assessment of Risk
6. Upon the receipt of the said material the Head of the VWAPU shall take following steps:
6.1 Make a provisional determination in writing as to the level of risk after applying objective criteria. Similarly, the Head shall decide about the best method of approaching the victims and witnesses having regard to the security and the protection of the victims or the witnesses. Accordingly, the Head of the VWAPU makes a decision as to whether general measure of protection is sufficient or any special measure of protection should be afforded.
6.2 Obtain consent of the victims and the witnesses before making any measure of special or general of security. The victims and witnesses should be made aware of the nature of the security measures in place as far as possible without prejudice to the security of others including the security of personnel providing the security. However, in appropriate instances after consulting the Commission the Head of the Unit may withhold from the victims and witnesses about the nature of the security measures in place.
Assessment of Level of Assistance
7. The Head of the VWAPU may also make provisional assessment about the nature of general and special measure of assistance that should be made available to the victim and the witnesses.
General Measure of Protection and Assistance
8. The Commission shall make every endeavor to provide following general measure protection to victims and witnesses. In providing the protection, the Commission may take into account the views and observations of the victims and witnesses.
8.1 Physical and Mental protection
8.1.1 The Commission through the VWAPU shall take all necessary and meaningful steps to prevent any physical, psychological and mental harm, interference or intimidation being done to the victims and witnesses.
8.1.2 It may be essential not to divulge the name and the identity of the victims or witnesses with a view to protect them from any harm, interference and intimidation. The Commission may decide the nature of the measure having regard to the level of risk. In appropriate instances the identity may be with held from potential suspects and their counsel, media and general public.
8.1.3 The officers of the Commission who come into contact with the victims and witnesses are duty bound not to divulge the identity of the victims and witnesses to outsiders unless the Commission may deem fit in appropriate cases.
8.1.4 The commission may also decide whether the full or part of the inquiry proceedings should be held in camera or not. Also, the Commission may determine whether the victims and witnesses should give evidence in the inquiry proceedings in a hidden position or take steps to hide the identity. The Commission may also recourse to technology including video recording in this regard. The nature of this measure may be decided by the commission.
8.1.5 The Commission and its officers must take special care and attention as regards to the protection of children, women, and disabled and all vulnerable victims and witnesses.
8.2 Property protection
The Commission shall take all steps as practicable as possible to protect the movable and immovable property of victims and witnesses if the Commission forms the opinion that such property is likely to be damaged or destroyed on account of the assistance provided by the victims and witnesses to the Commission.
8.3.1 The Commission and its officers shall respect to the dignity, privacy of the victims and witnesses. Measures should be taken to eliminate secondary victimization when victims and witness come into contact with the officers of the commission.
8.3.2 In particular when questioning the victims and witnesses during the investigation or inquiry proceedings due respect should be given to dignity and privacy.
8.3.3 The Commission may also determine as regards the restrictions that should be imposed during the cross examination of the victims and witnesses, on counsel for the potential suspects, in the event the commission allowing such counsel to participate in the proceedings
8.3.4 The Commission may forbid any question which it regards as indecent or scandalous or intended to insult or annoy. The commission shall monitor that the examination of victims and witnesses should not be needlessly offensive.
8.3.5 The Commission and its officers must take special care and attention as regards to children, women, and disabled and all vulnerable victims and witnesses when they are being questioned and interrogated.
9. The Commission shall provide following measures of General Assistance to Victims and Witnesses. In providing the assistance the Commission may take into account as practicable as possible the views and observation of the victims and witnesses.
9.1.1 The Head of the Unit may determine the nature and mode of the transportation that should be given to the victims and witness depending on the necessity and availability of resources.
9.1.2 Effort should be made as far as practicable to provide transport facilities to all victims and witnesses who have genuine security concerns.
9.1.3 For other witness, the commission may determine in providing an allowance for transportation.
9.1.4 The Head of the VWAPU with the concurrence of the Commissioners shall prepare a scheme of allowance for transportation.
9.2.1 The Head of the VWAPU in consultation with the Commissioners, relevant agencies and institutions must make available necessary accommodation in secure places to victims and witnesses if they wish to have such facility. The Head of the VWAPU in consultation with the Commission may decide the nature and duration of the accommodation that would be best suited to particular victim and witness.
9.2.2 If the event victims and witnesses wish to stay in an accommodation selected by them, the Commission shall reimburse the expenses for such accommodation on scheduled scheme of payment.
9.2.3 The Head of the VWAPU with the concurrence of the Commissioners shall prepare such scheme of payment for accommodation.
9.3 Compensation for loss of income
Victims and witnesses are entitled to claim compensation for the loss of income incurred on account of providing assistance to the Commission.
9.4.1 The victims and witnesses must have a right to be represented by an Attorney at law during the course of the inquiry and the investigations.
9.4.2 In the event victims and witnesses require legal assistance, the Commission shall provide them the opportunity to have access to an Attorney at Law from a panel of Attorney’s at law.
9.4.3 The Commission shall establish such panel of Attorney’s at law and it can be
revised from time to time.
9.5.1 The Commission considers that it is very important to provide the services of counselors to victims and witnesses. The Commission has decided to provide counseling services and shall establish panel of professional counselors for that purpose.
9.5.2 The VWAPU in consultation with the Commission shall facilitate the access to counselors to the relevant victims and witnesses.
9.6 Medical Treatment
9.6.1 The Commission considers that it is very important to provide the services of professional medical staff and other relevant experts to victims and witnesses.
9.6.2 The Commission has decided to provide medical service and shall establish a panel of professional medical staff and other relevant experts for that purpose.
9.6.3 The VWAPU in consultation with the Commission shall facilitate the access to medical staff and other experts to the relevant victims and witnesses.
9.7 Information Services
9.7.1 Victims and witness should be given an orientation about the investigation, inquiry, panel of Attorney’s at law, various units, Commission and the legal frame work upon which the Commission is functioning.
9.7.2 Victims and witnesses are entitled to have information regarding the general measure of protection and assistance available to them.
9.7.3 Victim and witness should be provided with necessary information with regard to all the important decisions, steps and progress of the investigation and inquiry in respect of which he or she is victim or witness without prejudice to the ongoing investigations, inquiry, and potential trial in a court of law.
The victims and witnesses shall be provided with necessary facilities including waiting rooms and refreshments when assisting Commission in an investigation or inquiry.
10. The Head of the VWAPU in consultation with the Commission shall identify and make use of agencies, persons, organizations and institutions that would be useful in providing the general measure of protection and assistance. The Head of the VWAPU as directed by the Commission shall take appropriate measures to make available the assistance of such agencies, persons, organizations and institutions without compromising the integrity and independence of the Commission.
11. The Commission shall provide special measure of Protection in instances where general measure of protection is not sufficient, having regard to the special needs and requirements of the particular victim or witness.
12. The Commission shall provide special measure of assistance in instances where general measure of assistance is not sufficient, having regard to the special needs and
requirements of the particular victim or witness.
13. The Head of the VWAPU shall decide in consultation with the Commission as regards the mode of providing special measure of protection and assistance.
14. The Head of VWAPU in consultation with the Commission may identify and make use of the agencies, persons, organizations and institutions that would be useful in providing the special measure of protection and assistance.. The Head of the VWAPU as directed by the Commission shall take appropriate measures to make available the assistance of such agencies, persons, organizations and institutions without compromising the integrity and independence of the Commission.
15. The procedure laid down in the ‘Mandate, Organizational Structure and Rules of Procedure of the Victim and Witness Assistance and Protection Unit’ shall apply as regards the channeling of external resources.
16. In the event any officer of the VWIPU comes to know of the existence of any fresh witness, victim or material it shall be the duty of the Head of the VWIPU to communicate such information to the Commissioners.
17. The Head of the VWAPU with the concurrence of the Commission shall decide about the duration for which these measures would be operative. The duration can be changed after reviewing the development and circumstances of each investigation and inquiry. There will be periodical review of the level of protection and the assistance the victims and witnesses require.
18. The Commission may delegate powers and responsibilities under the scheme to one or more of the Commissioners.
19. The scheme can be amended by the Commission as and when it is required.