Sahel countries draft model law on victim and witness protection
A fair, effective and efficient justice is a justice that respects the fundamental rights of victims and witnesses in the same way it respects those of suspects and offenders. It must focus on the prevention of victimization, protect and assist victims and witnesses, and treat them with compassion while respecting their dignity. Moreover, victims should have access to legal recourse in order to remedy suffered damages and obtain reparation.
There is currently a legal vacuum for victim and witness protection in the Sahel countries. Neither category is specifically addressed by current legislation other than a few measures in texts such as the criminal code and criminal procedure code. Even these measures however are poorly implemented.
Moreover, with the help of UNODC, the participants familiarized themselves with the international standards in the area of protection and assistance of victims and witnesses.
Taking into consideration both the needs of their legislations and the requirements to have a model law compliant with international standards, the participants established an outline for the model law and proceeded to give drafting instructions regarding its content. Among others, the outline highlights the assistance, protection and restitution for victims and witnesses.
This regional meeting was a follow-up to the First Regional Meeting of the Sahel countries on the protection of victims and witnesses organized by UNODC in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on 2-4 December 2014. One of the recommendations of this meeting was for UNODC to assist the Sahel states in providing them with a legal and institutional framework for the protection of victims and witnesses.
The efforts to develop a strong, applicable legislation in the area of victim and witness protection are part of UNODC's Sahel Programme's mandate, which calls for the strengthening of legislation in the Sahel aimed at fighting organized crime in the region and beyond. This workshop in particular was funded by Austria.