Minor Victims and Witnesses
Dealing with minor victims and witnesses:
The law has given special attention to minor witnesses in terms of considering their situation and age due to the nature of their abilities. In most cases, their testimony and statement is heard in the presence of their legal guardian and in conditions appropriate to their situation. The procedures are simplified so that they can understand things, and they are addressed in simple language. Minor witnesses are heard without oath as supporting evidence if they were under 15 years old, and they are referred to child advisors at the ministry of social affairs most of the time to evaluate their psychological and social status and to what extent the crime affected them. They treated in a manner that guarantees re-integrating them in the society and go back to their normal lives, especially in sexual assault cases. Their status is evaluated to see to what extent they are in danger because some cases require holding them in a safe place. Procedure are taken to guarantee the confidentiality of the investigation and trial, and not to take the testimony of minors more than once. Speed in the procedures needs to be taken in consideration in such cases.
The law protects persons who report or testify in a certain crime. No-one may affect them through threats or any other means in accordance with article 217 of the penal law. Article 224 of the same law addresses influencing witnesses and considered it a punishable crime. Articles 77 through 91 clarify how witnesses are summoned and heard, and also address their rights and duties. So far the Palestinian legislator has not adopted provisions to protect witnesses after giving their testimony as applied in some counties like the United States.