Should Sweden allow anonymous witness testimony?
As the gang crime rate soars and the solved crime rate plunges, Sweden's Liberals are calling for witnesses to be allowed to testify in court anonymously, as is already the case in Norway and Denmark. The Social Democratic Interior Minister Anders Ygeman rejects the plans and has called instead for witness protection programmes to be expanded. Sweden's commentators are also divided over the issue.
Advantages not proven
Anonymous court testimonies are not a good idea, Sydsvenskan believes:
“If the lack of willingness to participate in a court case is due to a distrust of the legal system and society as a whole, the possibility of giving testimony anonymously would not make much difference. ... The idea of anonymous witnesses immediately brings to mind a society of informers. An old and basically self-evident principle establishes that the defendant has the right to know who is accusing him. If you want to abandon this principle, the anticipated advantages must be clear. The first thing those who advocate the idea of anonymous witnesses must do is prove just that.”
Vital to increase solved crimes rate
The Liberals' proposal should be given a chance, Svenska Dagbladet counters:
“You can't close your eyes to the fact that criminality is becoming increasingly brutal. At the same time the state apparently has fewer and fewer options for guaranteeing the security of its citizens. ... In Malmö alone, the police are currently investigating eleven unsolved murder cases and 80 attempted murders. In view of this situation witness protection programmes seem neither a credible nor promising approach. ... The more murders that remain unsolved because people don't dare to give evidence as witnesses, the more flimsy the argument becomes that anonymity represents a major threat to the rule of law.”