Across the world, there is growing concern about the intimidation of witnesses in organized crime investigations and the impact of this in terms of undermining both public confidence in the criminal justice system and its effectiveness. Recognition of these problems has prompted many governments to invest in state witness protection programmes. This article examines the Italian State Witness Protection Programme in a comparative international context in order to understand what lessons can be learnt from it. In particular, it asks what can be learnt from (1) the law and the structure of the protection programme, (2) the challenges of turning criminals into effective state witnesses and (3) the importance of public opinion. It concludes that state witness protection programmes are a fundamental part of the fight against organized crime, but what is needed to make them efficient include resources, skilled personnel and political will.
- Witness protection