The Shura Council’s Committee on Legislative and Constitutional Affairs has discussed on Monday a draft law to protect of witnesses to crimes.
In addition to witnesses, the law will also protect experts and people who report crimes from any harm that could be carried out against them.
Lawyer Sayeda Qandil from the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters said that a law to protect witness has been greatly needed in Egypt. She alleged that witnesses to certain crimes are subjected to threats and pressures from the Ministry of Interior.
Lawyer Mohamed Abdel Aziz from the Al-Haqanya Centre for Human Rights said pressures exercised on witnesses are often carried out to get them to change or retract their testimonies. “We do need security,” he said.
Qandil said that an eyewitness who knows the identity of the killer of Gaber Salah, commonly known as Jika, can not testify because of the potential danger. “He could get kidnapped, or a case can be fabricated against him… Most witnesses in cases of killing protesters have had cases fabricated against them,” she said.
Regarding the bill being drafted in the Shura Council, Qandil was not optimistic that it will bring about real change. “Even if they issue a hundred pieces of legislation, the state is not enforcing them,” she said.
Qandil added that whenever a person says that they are willing to testify in criminal cases, they are subjected to long and draining procedures.
In the discussion in the Shura Council, a representative from the Interior Ministry said the law will contribute to the criminal investigation process because many people refuse to give their testimonies out of fear that doing so would put them in danger.
Earlier in May, Minister of Justice Ahmed Suleiman chaired the first meeting of the National Coordination Committee for Combating Corruption to discuss the draft law which was proposed by his ministry.