|The Harper Government introduces the Safer Witnesses Act|
OTTAWA, December 11, 2012 – The Honourable Vic Toews, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, today introduced amendments to the Witness Protection Program Act.
"Our Government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe. An effective and reliable witness protection program is valuable in the fight against crime, especially organized crime and terrorism," said Minister Toews. "Through the Safer Witnesses Act, our Government is improving the federal Witness Protection Program by making it more effective for those it's designed to protect while being responsive to law enforcement needs."
These amendments will ensure better protection for those whom the program is designed to help. This will be accomplished by enhancing the program and providing better service to other witness protection programs, through:
improved processes to obtain secure identity changes for witnesses in the provincial program;
broadened prohibitions against the disclosure of information;
expanded admissions for national security, national defence and public safety sources; and
extension of the amount of time emergency protection may be provided.
"Our Government is committed to providing law enforcement with the tools and resources needed to protect the safety of our families and communities, including an effective Witness Protection Program," added Senator Dagenais.
Protection under the federal Program is currently available to witnesses referred from any law enforcement agency in Canada, as well as from some foreign agencies. With the Safer Witnesses Act, federal departments/agencies with a mandate relating to national security, national defence or public safety will also be able to refer witnesses to the program.
The Safer Witnesses Act supports the Government of Canada's Air India Inquiry Action Plan, released in 2010.
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Julie Carmichael 12/11/2012