The GMT identified the Protection of Witnesses and "Pentiti" in relation to Acts of Terrorism as one of the priorities for further action by the Council of Europe.
In February 2003, the Committee of Ministers, following a request by the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), adopted specific terms of reference for the Committee of Experts on the Protection of Witnesses and Pentiti in relation to Acts of Terrorism (PC-PW). The PC-PW held three meetings (April, July and September 2003) and conducted a survey on legislation and practice in member and observer states. As a result of this work, it adopted a final report and conclusions on the possible elaboration of an appropriate international instrument.
Its conclusions were welcomed by the European Ministers of Justice at their 25th Conference, and were subsequently endorsed by the CODEXTER with a view to the preparation of an international instrument on witness protection. The CODEXTER underlined that the adoption of such instruments would enhance the efficiency of the fight against terrorism.
In May 2004 the Committee of Ministers adopted new specific terms of reference for the PC-PW, instructing it to prepare a draft legal framework for international co-operation in matters related to the protection of witnesses and collaborators of justice, including in relation to acts of terrorism, on the basis of the conclusions of its final report. The Committee was called upon in particular to:
identify issues that should be addressed by means of international non-binding legal instruments and, where appropriate, elaborate draft texts; and to
identify issues that should be addressed by means of international binding legal instruments and, following the approval of an interim report by the CDPC recognising the need for such instruments, elaborate draft texts.
The PC-PW held three meetings (October and December 2004 and February 2005) and elaborated a draft recommendation on the protection of witnesses and collaborators of justice which was adopted by the Committee of Ministers.
Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member states
On 20 April 2005, at the 924th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies, the Committee of Ministers adopted:
Conclusions of the report of the PC-PW on the possible elaboration of an appropriate international instrument in the field of the protection of witnesses and collaborators of justice
Meetings of the former Committee of Experts on the protection of Witnesses and Pentiti in relation to acts of terrorism