Witness Protection Program Continues Despite Pandemic
Jakarta. The Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) said they keep providing protection for witnesses and victims who have concerns with their safety despite ongoing nationwide restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The agency claimed that requests for protection has increased in recent weeks, mostly related to human rights violation cases.
“The LPSK services keep running despite the pandemic. A lot of people still come to our office, even though we have encouraged applicants to go online. Therefore our staffs work in separate shifts to keep services running,” Livia Istania Iskandar, Deputy Chairman of LPSK, said on Friday.
She said the agency can be contacted through its hotline number, social media accounts or emails.
The social restrictions have limited LPSK’s reach outside Jakarta, prompting the agency to cooperate with local institutions in running the protection program. The local partners include
psychologists, the Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A) and other related organizations.
“We have to ensure that the witness and victim protection program continues at regions,” Livia said.
The LPSK is also appealing the prosecutor’s office in Jakarta for videoconferencing during the court hearings, especially when they involve witnesses under its protection.
A number of court hearings have been held through teleconference in recent weeks as Jakarta imposed a lockdown and strict physical distancing measures to contain the outbreak. But Livia said in some cases prosecutors still require witnesses to testify in the courtroom.
Livia said there was a significant rise protection requests coming to her office.
“Most applications came from human rights violation cases,” she added.
According to LPSK data, there were 99 applications in human rights violation cases, 53 applications in human trafficking cases, 31 in child sexual abuse cases, 40 in violence cases and 44 in other criminal acts.
Each case will require further investigation and considerations by the LPSK board of leadership and the time needed for a decision is different from case to case, she said.
“The level of potential threat faced by the applicants is also a factor. When we detect a serious threat to the safety of the applicant, we can immediately provide emergency protection,” she added.
According to the law, the agency should give priorities to witnesses in major criminal cases including terrorism, human rights violations, corruption, money laundering, drug crimes, sexual abuse against women and children and torture.