Nazri had mentioned the "Act" yesterday when he said the person who took the controversial video clip of a lawyer’s phone conversation with a "Datuk" would be given full protection, including, possibly, a new identity.
The Bar Council said there is no such legislation. Its president, Ambiga Sreenevasan, said the council had never heard of such an Act on witness protection and even if there is one, it did not know its scope.
"Although Section 53 of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 provides some form of protection, it is not to the extent mentioned by the minister," she told theSun.
According to the Anti-Corruption Act, the identity of the person who provided information to the Anti-Corruption Agency shall be a secret between the officer who made the complaint and the person who gave the information, and everything contained in such information, the identity of the person who gave the information and all other circumstances relating to the information, including the place where it was given, shall not be disclosed or be ordered or required to be disclosed in any civil, criminal or other proceedings in any court, tribunal or other authority.
Asked whether there is a witness protection programme in the country, Ambiga said there is none. However, she said it was within the jurisdiction of the police to protect a witness like what was done in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.
She said the council welcomed the enactment of such a law so that it will encourage honest people to come forward with information on a wrongdoing.
Nazri had said yesterday the source of the video clip could be given a new identity or undergo surgery to be given a new face under the Witness Protection Act.
Former United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said in a statement Parliament had only passed the Evidence of Child Witness Act, making provisions relating to the giving of evidence by child witnesses this year.
"I hope Nazri is not confused with the Act. As a de facto minister for law, he should exercise caution and check his facts before making public statements. Incorrect statements such as this could embarass the government," he said.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also said she was mystified when Nazri made the statement as the legal division in parliament has confirmed that no such Bill had been tabled for a first reading in the lower house.