Inquiry proposes new act on anonymous witness testimony
The Inquiry on anonymous witness testimony has presented its interim report to Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer. In its report, the Inquiry proposes introducing a system of anonymous witness testimony in criminal cases.
The Government is working hard to push back against serious organised crime and restore security in Sweden. This work is based on three elements: striking back against violent crime, cutting off criminal finances and stopping recruitment of children and young people.
A key part of restoring security is safeguarding the willingness of citizens to talk to police, prosecutors and courts about what they have experienced or witnessed. Today, many people fear threats and violence, and are afraid to testify or even speak with law enforcement. As a result, many crimes cannot be solved. This jeopardises confidence in the judicial system, and by extension democracy. A system of anonymous witness testimony is an important reform aimed at breaking the culture of silence.
“We must break the culture of silence. Sweden is one of the few countries in Europe that is unable to guarantee witnesses facing the risk of threats and reprisals anonymity during the legal process. Countries such as Denmark, Finland and Norway have systems of anonymous witness testimony in place – now it’s time to introduce one in Sweden. Today, I received a well-reasoned proposal on such a system with robust procedural safeguards. The Government will now circulate the proposals for comment and then work to introduce this system as soon as possible,” says Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer.
The Inquiry has proposed introducing a system of anonymous witness testimony in criminal cases. This would make it possible to testify anonymously during both the preliminary investigation and the trial in cases involving serious crime and where there is a significant risk of witnesses or their relatives being subjected to serious repercussions if they testify in the case. It is proposed that the new act enter into force on 1 April 2025.
In the meantime, the Inquiry’s work continues. Its remit has included reviewing the crown witness system and the possibility of using interviews recorded during preliminary investigations as evidence in court. The Inquiry will present its final report by 28 April 2024. The Inquiry is chaired by Marshal of the Realm and former Court of Appeal President Fredrik Wersäll.