Manitoba plans changes to witness protection program

People in Manitoba’s version of the witness protection program could be cut off from their payments if they don’t stay out of trouble.

Province of Manitoba introduces new legislation to change Witness Security Act

People in Manitoba’s version of the witness protection program could be cut off from their payments if they don’t stay out of trouble.

The province introduced new legislation this week to make changes to its Witness Security Act, which protects the people prosecutors rely on to convict criminals.

Attorney General Andrew Swan said many people involved in the program have been involved in crimes themselves.

“We want to keep up that fight against organized crime and having those people come forward is a big part of it,” said Swan. “There is a bargain that if people are going to come forward and give that kind of evidence that we will be there to support them, but also, part of that bargain is that people need to follow the expectations and the rules.”

Currently, if witnesses commit crimes, the only option is to kick them out of the program.

 “It is an extreme measure to suddenly say, ‘You know, you gave us this evidence. We’ve got a successful conviction. You’re now on your own.’ This will give us some additional ways to monitor people and make sure they’re complying with the agreement,” said Swan.

Swan said the new measure will allow officials to cut off payments to a witness if they are getting into trouble with the law instead of just kicking them out of the program entirely.

The Witness Security Amendment Act had its first reading in the Legislature on Tuesday.

Swan said the act will also clarify the powers of security officers who work with witnesses in the program. 

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