Witness protection

A blurred image of a witness behind a microphone in a courtroom
A blurred image of a witness behind a microphone in a courtroom. (Photo: Keystone/Marcel Kusch)

Technological advances, global integration and the growing professionalism of international crime groups and their financial resources mean that it is becoming more and more difficult to bring criminals to justice using conventional investigation methods. Witness statements and testimonies help solve and prosecute crime. That is why witnesses are becoming increasingly important to criminal prosecution.

Law enforcement depends on witnesses. But giving testimony means that witnesses are exposed to considerable risks, even danger to life or limb, and therefore require protection.

International standard

It is the task of the state to protect people acting as witnesses in criminal proceedings, thereby encouraging their willingness and ability to testify. Witness protection plays vital part in combating serious crime, terrorism and criminal organisations, and has become the norm worldwide.

On becoming a member of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2013, Switzerland established a national witness protection unit at fedpol.

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