Legal norms that are to be adopted as a result of amendments to the administrative legislation should ease people’s life, not complicate it, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting hosted on 18 June to discuss the draft codes on administrative responsibility.
The head of state said that an interdepartmental expert commission led by Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Olga Chupris had been working on the draft Code on Administrative Offenses and the draft Procedural Law Code for Administrative Offenses for six months.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, once the codes are ready, it will be necessary to revise departmental instructions and other acts of the subordinate level to remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. “Prohibitions and restrictions should remain only where they are objectively necessary. The head of state emphasized the need to carry out such work quickly.“We must agree with you on a time frame for this. It would be highly desirable for the new code to take effect at the start of a new year. The by-laws need to be adjusted by then too,” he said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the work on amendments to the legislation will proceed in the way similar to the work on the administrative codes. In particular, such work will be carried out with regards to criminal law.
“Quite a lot of time has passed. Life has changed. New and existing laws must be in sync with the pace of life, the lifestyle of our people and the functioning of the state. It is time we embarked on this hard, time-consuming, and sometimes unpopular work (I remember it from the time of my parliamentary activity),” the president said. “There is no need to break everything to the ground as a result of reforms and expect that we will build something new on this rubble. We need to go the way we have taken to develop these codes (on administrative responsibility), taking into account what has already been done,” he added.
“Prohibitions and restrictions should remain only where they are objectively necessary. These are risks to the life and health of citizens, emergency situations,” the president said.
“There is no need trying to find fault with people for every little thing. Why fine an elderly woman who sells, for example, a bucket of apples or potatoes from her own vegetable garden by the road? It is better if we organize mini-markets everywhere (though they seem to be everywhere), near villages or popular places. We just do not need to complicate people’s lives,” the president stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that such work is already underway in the country. It began three years ago as part of the liberalization of the business environment.
“This work should not stop. This is a direct order," the head of state said. " We need to think about how to work with people all the time. Legal norms should make people's lives easier, not vice versa.”
As an example, Aleksandr Lukashenko cited the points system proposed by the traffic police. “Maybe it is not bad. Many countries use it. But we studied public opinion an saw that there is no trust in this system in Belarus," he said.
The president said that the final versions of the codes fully take into account the interests of both the state and ordinary citizens. “It can be further fine-tuned when finalized in the House of Representatives. MPs will also make their contribution. However, we have to decide on the main, conceptual provisions of the drafts today," he said.
The head of state noted that this topic was already discussed in December 2019. A number of systemic shortcomings were identified then. “I have already cited specific figures. In just five years, we have registered almost 16 million violations, more than 3 million people have been brought to justice. This state of affairs was the result of the improper law enforcement practices by some agencies and excessive repressive nature of the administrative legislation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
In order to change this situation, the president gave appropriate instructions regarding the proposals to increase speed limits, improve the placement of roadside speed monitoring devices, and raise people’s awareness. He noted that the new codes were drafted with participation of various government agencies, MPs, the judiciary, scientists, and the legal community. The interdepartmental commission studied the problems people are facing and worked out the most appropriate legal models to solve them.
“I am sure that this is the only way we can draw up truly fair laws that the society needs. The new government should also keep this experience in mind,” the president believes.
The head of state also outlined the main topics for discussion for the participants of the session. “Firstly, what are the main amendments set forth in the new codes? Do they fully comply with the president’s instructions? Do they take into account suggestions from the people?” he asked. “Secondly, how much have we changed the administrative process? Do we need to do this at all? I would like to know in what way courts will apply the norms laid down in the codes. Thirdly, how will law enforcement agencies organize awareness raising campaigns? It is a very important component. In fact, the police have always been the closest to people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.