x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Witnesses to crime offered more protection by Sharjah prosecutors

The facilities at the main court include a room with a one-way mirror that allows people to identify criminals anonymously and without fear of intimidation.

SHARJAH // Victims of crime no longer have to face suspects following the opening of investigation suites by prosecutors.

The facilities at the main court include a room with a one-way mirror that allows people to identify  criminals anonymously and without fear of intimidation.

Victims or witnesses were previously taken to the court building to identify suspects in custody face-to-face.

“This is part of our process to guarantee the privacy and safety of a witness,” said Rashid Ali Majed Al Omran, Sharjah’s chief prosecutor. “Many witnesses would be willing to give their word if they were sure the accused would never know they were involved in giving testimony against them.”

He said that when a witness had been asked to identify a suspect, many were reluctant to speak out for fear of reprisals.

“The new system would put them at ease and make them free to say everything, as every word in the investigations counts,” Mr Al Omran said.

The suite, which can hold up to 10 people, is one of a dozen new investigation rooms.

These fall within the legal framework of the UAE to protect the privacy of witnesses and were approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Al Omran said Sharjah Prosecution was increasing the number of its offices, with one already open in Al Hamriya area.

Residents would previously have to travel to the main office in Sharjah City.

An office will be opened at Sharjah Municipality to handle issues such as tenancy disputes, with another due to open at the Department of Social Services close to the Sharjah Social Centre. Al Dhaid and Madam areas will also get their own dedicated offices.

ykakande@thenational.ae