Prosecution witnesses need effective protection
THE question of casting impervious protective umbrella around prosecution witnesses in the War Crimes Trial cases has come to the fore once again. As recently as December 8, prosecution witness against Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, Mostafa Hawlader was hacked at Ziannagar in Pirojpur. Two days later, he succumbed to his injuries in Dhaka Medical Collage Hospital. Earlier on October 28, Jamaat-Shibir men allegedly attacked the house of another witness for prosecution Mahbubul Alam Hawlader.
These incidents have struck fear in the minds of 28 witnesses who had made deposition at the trial court against Delwar Hossain Sayedee. Supreme Court is currently hearing appeal in Sayedee case and, therefore, the witnesses still feel vulnerable to vengeful acts from Sayedee supporters. The police have been guarding them with what they termed 'short term security measures'.
Quite clearly, security arrangements will have to be extended to them until such time as they are relatively free from risk. In fact, they will need to be guarded for a long tine to come if we are to ensure smooth proceedings of the War Crimes Trial. There is law for witness protection but it appears that more teeth needs to be given to it to make it into an effective deterrent.
Actually, participation of the community including policing at the level will have to be ensured by sensitising local people about the risk perception so that they can play their role to protect witnesses.