Speeches and Interviews
U.S.-Funded Witness Protection Program in Chernihiv
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft
Remarks At Opening of a Court Room Equipped for the
Secure Interview of Victims and Witnesses during Trial
May 11, 2011
Mister Tagiyev, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, First let me say what a delight it is to be here in Chernihiv, and to be participating in such an important event.
The project that we have funded here in the courthouse, which the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has implemented, is a visible part of a larger commitment that the Ukrainian government has made to stop trafficking in persons - modern-day slavery - from occurring within its borders.
This commitment was evident in February when our Secretary of State signed a Joint Cooperation Plan with your Foreign Minister that lays out real and concrete steps both sides can take to stop this scourge.
A key element of the plan is continuing efforts to ensure that trafficking offenses are properly investigated, prosecuted and punished;
This equipment will allow that to happen, as now victims of trafficking can provide testimony securely, which will lead to more convictions, and can help the court system send the message that these types of crimes are not acceptable here.
We have already seen the successful use of this equipment elsewhere in Ukraine. Its impact goes beyond just trafficking cases, as other serious crime witnesses can also testify through video connection without being re-victimized by the defendant.
Equally important, judges are able to ensure that the rights of the victims, witnesses, and defendants are met, while still being able to conduct a comprehensive, impartial, and direct examination of all evidence that has been collected by an investigator.
Prosecutors also benefit by having the possibility to convince more witnesses- including members of criminal ring - to testify in court.
And all of this helps address the broader question - the need for the citizens of this country to feel that the organs of state power exist to protect their rights and interests. By protecting victims, we strengthen the role of the legal process.
So thank you again, and I wish the judges here in Chernihiv success.