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Ett hållbart vittnesskydd: En analys av möjligheten till ett förbättrat vittnesskydd i ljuset av insynsrätten

Stensson, Stephanie LU (2012) JURM02 20122
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Utsagor från vittnen är ett väsentligt inslag i en effektiv rättskipning. Hot och våld mot vittnen utgör därför ett stort hinder i det brottsbekämpande ar-betet. Om det allmänna inte kan erbjuda vittnen ett tillräckligt skydd vid så-dana angrepp, finns det risk att vittnen väljer att inte samarbeta med polisen, vilket i sin tur kan få till följd att grova brott förblir ouppklarade. I denna studie granskas möjligheterna till ett förbättrat vittnesskydd i ljuset av in-synsrätten.

Studien visar att nuvarande åtgärder för att skydda vittnen främst består av fysiskt skydd, skyddade personuppgifter, byte av bostadsort samt, i yttersta fall, fullständigt identitetsbyte. Sedan år 2006 är det också möjligt för allvar-ligt hotade vittnen att... (More)
Utsagor från vittnen är ett väsentligt inslag i en effektiv rättskipning. Hot och våld mot vittnen utgör därför ett stort hinder i det brottsbekämpande ar-betet. Om det allmänna inte kan erbjuda vittnen ett tillräckligt skydd vid så-dana angrepp, finns det risk att vittnen väljer att inte samarbeta med polisen, vilket i sin tur kan få till följd att grova brott förblir ouppklarade. I denna studie granskas möjligheterna till ett förbättrat vittnesskydd i ljuset av in-synsrätten.

Studien visar att nuvarande åtgärder för att skydda vittnen främst består av fysiskt skydd, skyddade personuppgifter, byte av bostadsort samt, i yttersta fall, fullständigt identitetsbyte. Sedan år 2006 är det också möjligt för allvar-ligt hotade vittnen att ingå i ett särskilt personsäkerhetsprogram, varvid vitt-nen kan skyddas genom olika åtgärder i polisens regi. Under huvudförhand-ling kan vittnet i vissa fall avge vittnesmål utan konfrontation med den tillta-lade; antingen genom videolänk eller genom medhörning varvid den tilltala-de följer vittnesförhöret i ett separat rum. Numera utförs också regelbundna säkerhetskontroller vid vissa domstolar för att förhindra att vapen förs in i domstolens lokaler. Studien visar emellertid att det, mot bakgrund av den växande organiserade brottsligheten samt den ökande anmälnings- och lag-föringsstatistiken beträffande brottet övergrepp i rättssak (17 kap. 10 § BrB), kan ifrågasättas om de nuvarande åtgärderna för att skydda vittnen är till-räckliga. Sådana omständigheter har i andra länder ansetts vara skäl till att tillåta vittnesuppgifter från förundersökning och anonyma vittnen som be-visning när det finns en risk att vittnet utsätts för repressalier. Tillåtligheten av sådan bevisning får främst bedömas mot bakgrund av rätten till en rättvis rättegång i artikel 6 EKMR och de grundläggande principerna om kontra-diktion och parts likställdhet. Principerna kommer även till uttryck i artikel 6.3 d) EKMR, vari stadgas den tilltalades rätt att förhöra vittnen.

Av studien framgår att det inte under alla omständigheter är oförenligt med konventionen att använda vittnesuppgifter från förundersökningen och ano-nyma vittnen som bevisning. Europadomstolen har härvid uttalat att det krävs att försvaret någon gång under förfarandet getts möjlighet att utfråga vittnet. Anonyma vittnen kan därutöver tillåtas undantagsvis och vid ett konstaterat behov av skydd för vittnets personliga säkerhet, frihet och liv en-ligt artikel 8. Behovet ska sedan vägas mot det handikapp som drabbar för-svaret, dvs. en avvägning ska ske mellan artikel 6 och artikel 8 EKMR. Ett anonymt vittnesmål får inte uteslutande eller till avgörande del ligga till grund för dom. Studien visar att den nordiska rättsutvecklingen verkar gå mot ett starkare vittnesskydd i form av anonyma vittnen. Anonyma vittnen tillåts i Danmark och Norge och nyligen framlades ett förslag om vittnes-anonymitet i Finland. Den svenska lagstiftaren synes genom åren ha varit motvillig till att tillåta en ordning med anonyma vittnen. Användningen av anonyma vittnen har inte ansetts vara möjlig mot bakgrund av den underlig-gande och grundläggande principen i RB om den tilltalades fullständiga in-synsrätt i processmaterialet. Den tilltalade förtas möjligheter att ifrågasätta vittnets trovärdighet när vittnets identitet hemlighålls. Om försvararen, men inte den tilltalade, får vetskap om vittnets identitet kan användningen av anonyma vittnen dessutom strida mot lojalitetsplikten. I studien argumente-ras därför för att andra åtgärder, ur en rättssäkerhetsaspekt, är lämpligare för att förbättra vittnesskyddet. Enligt författarens mening är det väsentligt att vittnesutsagor tas upp på ett tidigt stadium i processen, företrädesvis innan vittnet har utsatts för otillåten påverkan. Härvid argumenteras särskilt för att tillåta bevisupptagning under förundersökning, i närvaro av den misstänkte och dennes försvarare, när det finns en risk för att vittnet utsätts för repres-salier. Vittnesuppgifterna skulle därefter kunna användas vid en åtföljande rättegång och ersätta eller komplettera vittnesförhöret vid huvudförhandling. Vidare påvisar studien att säkerheten i domstolens lokaler brister i vissa av-seenden och författaren argumenterar därför för att det bör inrättas särskilda väntrum och inpasseringsgångar för vittnen i landets samtliga domstolar. (Less)
Abstract
Statements by witnesses are an essential element of the efficient administra-tion of justice. The occurrence of serious forms of threats and violence to-wards witnesses and their relatives therefore constitutes a major impediment to the work in combating crime. If the public cannot offer witnesses suffi-cient protection from attacks, there is a risk that they will choose not to co-operate with the police, which in turn mean that serious crimes may remain unsolved. In this study the possibilities of an improved witness protection are examined in light of the right to transparency in the judicial procedure.

The study shows that methods used to protect witnesses consist primarily of physical protection, protection of personal data,... (More)
Statements by witnesses are an essential element of the efficient administra-tion of justice. The occurrence of serious forms of threats and violence to-wards witnesses and their relatives therefore constitutes a major impediment to the work in combating crime. If the public cannot offer witnesses suffi-cient protection from attacks, there is a risk that they will choose not to co-operate with the police, which in turn mean that serious crimes may remain unsolved. In this study the possibilities of an improved witness protection are examined in light of the right to transparency in the judicial procedure.

The study shows that methods used to protect witnesses consist primarily of physical protection, protection of personal data, residential relocation and, in utmost cases, change of identity. Since the year 2006 there is also a possibil-ity for seriously threatened witnesses to be part of a special witness protec-tion program in which they are offered, through the police, various methods of protection. During the trial the witness may participate on video link or the defendant may follow the witness examination on a monitor in a sepa-rate room, in order to avoid witness intimidation resulting from face to face confrontation with the defendant. Nowadays, in some courts, safety checks are used to prevent weapons entering the court premises. The study shows, however, that it may be questioned whether the current measures to protect witnesses are sufficient with the growth of organized crime and the increas-ing police reports and conviction statistics concerning acts of intimidation criminalized under the provision of “övergrepp i rättssak” in the 17th Chap-ter 10 § Penal Code (BrB). Such circumstances have led some countries to allow evidence consisting of statements obtained at a pre-trial stage and made by anonymous witnesses, when there is a risk that the witness will be exposed to reprisals. The admissibility of such evidence shall primarily be assessed in light of the right to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR and the fundamental principles of contradiction and the equality of arms. These prin-ciples are also expressed in Article 6.3 d) ECHR, stating the defendant’s right to cross-examine witnesses.

Yet the study shows that the use of statements obtained at a pre-trial stage and made by anonymous witnesses is not under all circumstances incom-patible with the Convention. The European Court of Human Rights has held that it is hereby required the defence is given the opportunity to question the witness at some time during the judicial procedure. Anonymous witnesses may be allowed in exceptional cases and when there is a recognized need to protect the witness’ life, liberty and safety under Article 8 ECHR. The need must nevertheless be weighed against the handicaps under which the de-fence is laboured, i.e. a weighing of interest must be made between Article 6 and Article 8 of the ECHR. The conviction may not, in any event, be based solely or to a decisive extent on the evidence of anonymous witnesses. The study shows that in recent years the Nordic legal development appears to be moving towards a stronger witness protection – anonymous witnesses are allowed as evidence both in Denmark and Norway and recently a proposal for witness anonymity was presented in Finland. The Swedish legislator has remained reluctant to allow anonymous witnesses. The use hereof has not been considered possible because of the underlying and fundamental princi-ple in the Code of Judicial procedure (RB) stating the defendants’ complete right to transparency in the judicial procedure. The defendant is furthermore deprived the right to cast doubt on the witness’ reliability, while unaware of the witness’ identity. If the defence counsel, and not the defendant, is aware of the witness’ identity, the use of anonymous witnesses may thereto be in conflict with the lawyer’s duty of loyalty. The author of this study therefore argues that other measures, from the aspects of rule of law, may be more appropriate to improve witness protection. In the author’s opinion it is es-sential that the witnesses are examined at the early stages of the criminal proceedings, preferably before they have been exposed to witness intimida-tion. It is hereby argued that the hearing of evidence should be allowed at the pre-trial stages, in the presence of the accused and the defence counsel, when witnesses are faced with the risk of reprisals. These witness state-ments could subsequently be used to replace or complement the witness ex-amination at the main hearing. Furthermore, the study shows that there are deficiencies in the security within the court premises. Thus, the author ar-gues that separate waiting rooms and entry paths for witnesses should exist in all the Swedish courts. (Less)
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author
Stensson, Stephanie LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
An adequate witness protection: An analysis of the possibility of an improved witness protection in light of the right to transparency
course
JURM02 20122
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Straffrätt, vittnesskydd, insynsrätt
language
Swedish
id
3350367
date added to LUP
2013-01-28 13:08:37
date last changed
2013-01-30 13:33:29
@misc{3350367,
  abstract     = {Statements by witnesses are an essential element of the efficient administra-tion of justice. The occurrence of serious forms of threats and violence to-wards witnesses and their relatives therefore constitutes a major impediment to the work in combating crime. If the public cannot offer witnesses suffi-cient protection from attacks, there is a risk that they will choose not to co-operate with the police, which in turn mean that serious crimes may remain unsolved. In this study the possibilities of an improved witness protection are examined in light of the right to transparency in the judicial procedure.

The study shows that methods used to protect witnesses consist primarily of physical protection, protection of personal data, residential relocation and, in utmost cases, change of identity. Since the year 2006 there is also a possibil-ity for seriously threatened witnesses to be part of a special witness protec-tion program in which they are offered, through the police, various methods of protection. During the trial the witness may participate on video link or the defendant may follow the witness examination on a monitor in a sepa-rate room, in order to avoid witness intimidation resulting from face to face confrontation with the defendant. Nowadays, in some courts, safety checks are used to prevent weapons entering the court premises. The study shows, however, that it may be questioned whether the current measures to protect witnesses are sufficient with the growth of organized crime and the increas-ing police reports and conviction statistics concerning acts of intimidation criminalized under the provision of “övergrepp i rättssak” in the 17th Chap-ter 10 § Penal Code (BrB). Such circumstances have led some countries to allow evidence consisting of statements obtained at a pre-trial stage and made by anonymous witnesses, when there is a risk that the witness will be exposed to reprisals. The admissibility of such evidence shall primarily be assessed in light of the right to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR and the fundamental principles of contradiction and the equality of arms. These prin-ciples are also expressed in Article 6.3 d) ECHR, stating the defendant’s right to cross-examine witnesses. 

Yet the study shows that the use of statements obtained at a pre-trial stage and made by anonymous witnesses is not under all circumstances incom-patible with the Convention. The European Court of Human Rights has held that it is hereby required the defence is given the opportunity to question the witness at some time during the judicial procedure. Anonymous witnesses may be allowed in exceptional cases and when there is a recognized need to protect the witness’ life, liberty and safety under Article 8 ECHR. The need must nevertheless be weighed against the handicaps under which the de-fence is laboured, i.e. a weighing of interest must be made between Article 6 and Article 8 of the ECHR. The conviction may not, in any event, be based solely or to a decisive extent on the evidence of anonymous witnesses. The study shows that in recent years the Nordic legal development appears to be moving towards a stronger witness protection – anonymous witnesses are allowed as evidence both in Denmark and Norway and recently a proposal for witness anonymity was presented in Finland. The Swedish legislator has remained reluctant to allow anonymous witnesses. The use hereof has not been considered possible because of the underlying and fundamental princi-ple in the Code of Judicial procedure (RB) stating the defendants’ complete right to transparency in the judicial procedure. The defendant is furthermore deprived the right to cast doubt on the witness’ reliability, while unaware of the witness’ identity. If the defence counsel, and not the defendant, is aware of the witness’ identity, the use of anonymous witnesses may thereto be in conflict with the lawyer’s duty of loyalty. The author of this study therefore argues that other measures, from the aspects of rule of law, may be more appropriate to improve witness protection. In the author’s opinion it is es-sential that the witnesses are examined at the early stages of the criminal proceedings, preferably before they have been exposed to witness intimida-tion. It is hereby argued that the hearing of evidence should be allowed at the pre-trial stages, in the presence of the accused and the defence counsel, when witnesses are faced with the risk of reprisals. These witness state-ments could subsequently be used to replace or complement the witness ex-amination at the main hearing. Furthermore, the study shows that there are deficiencies in the security within the court premises. Thus, the author ar-gues that separate waiting rooms and entry paths for witnesses should exist in all the Swedish courts.},
  author       = {Stensson, Stephanie},
  keyword      = {Straffrätt,vittnesskydd,insynsrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Ett hållbart vittnesskydd: En analys av möjligheten till ett förbättrat vittnesskydd i ljuset av insynsrätten},
  year         = {2012},
}