What You Should Know About Lagos New Victim, Witness Protection and Assistance Bill
Recently, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed a bill to protect and assist victims of crimes and accidents as well as witnesses who have genuine information that could help prosecute cases effectively.
The witness protection and assistance bill was the first to be passed by a state parliament in Nigeria. It establishes an agency that would assist in meeting its stipulations and goals. The organisation would be financed through a Trust Fund.
The piece of legislature with 71 sections is titled A bill for a law to provide for the rights and entitlements of victims and protection of witnesses and for connected purposes. It was passed on Thursday, September 22, 2022.
The bill has been described as one that would protect lives and property because it is geared towards creating a peaceful Lagos society in line with the state’s advancement.
Below are 10 other things to know about the bill and the agency:
- Provide necessary assistance to victims and witnesses, including measures for treatment, reparation, restitution and rehabilitation.
- Conduct research into ways victims and witnesses can be effectively treated, rehabilitated, assisted, compensated and protected.
- Create a conducive environment for witnesses to make statements before law enforcement agencies without fear of any repercussions.
- Pay compensation to victims or witnesses for any physical or mental harm, loss or damages to property.
- A victim or witness shall be protected as far as practicable from unnecessary contact with the alleged offender and defence witnesses during trial and proceedings.
- A victim or witness who suspects that harm may be inflicted on him due to his participation in any investigation can seek protection.
- A victim or witness can be provided with security, temporary accommodation, permanent relocation, temporary or permanent employment or change of identity.
- Victims of accidents or crimes must be assisted by the public or security agents and taken to the nearest hospital for treatment.
- A hospital or facility that fails to treat a victim can face a N1 million fine. If the victim dies, the hospital or doctor faces prosecution.
- A private hospital that receives an accident victim with a severe wound must inform the agency within 48 hours for reimbursement of medical expenses where family members are not known or where the victim is indigent.