Proposals to improve the work of the Constitutional Court were in the focus of a meeting between Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Constitutional Court judges on 15 March.
“It is time to discuss the performance of the Constitutional Court, its prospects and ways to improve it,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The president extended Constitution Day greetings to the judiciary and the meeting participants. “For us, this day is special. It has become a certain tradition already,” he noted.
The judges have a special task to ensure the supremacy of Belarus’ Constitution and constitutional control over the legislation. “Fair laws and clear rules are essential for the country that prioritizes the wellbeing, legal and social protection of its citizens,” the Belarusian leader underlined.
The effectiveness of the judiciary increased in the last years, the head of state stressed. “You do not just analyze legal norms. You exercise preliminary control over the laws before they are submitted to the President. Guided by the Constitution, you also work out recommendations for law enforcers. This is very important for our legislative power,” Alexander Lukashenko added.
“I have already said at the meeting with MPs and judges that the issue of amending the Fundamental Law of the country may be discussed in the future,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “It is very simple, do not look for any news, especially fake news, here. We must understand that law making in a continuous process, this pertains to all laws and legal acts. This is a living organism which should be improved and modernized to keep up with the pace of life in the world.”
“Life goes on, and you see that our generation has already made big progress. When we started at the dawn of our independence we could not imagine what problems we would face, we could not imagine that the economy will become so IT-oriented, and that all nations will start looking for a place under the sun there. There are fewer talks about hydrocarbons, and innovations are top on the agenda,” the President remarked.
The head of state emphasized that Belarus is keeping eyes on the ball and is doing its best to make timely decisions to develop the state. “Life does not stand still, it is vigorously developing, and we must be quick enough to change and adapt to it. All that should be done at the level of laws taking into account the requirements of our life,” he is convinced. “Because the society is changing, and we are changing. Of course, the Constitution should be the headliner of the changes in our society. Therefore, as I have already said, we need to focus on amending and improving the norms of the Constitution.”
Alexander Lukashenko added that it is important to choose the right moment for amending the Fundamental Law of the country. “Because the talks on amending the Constitution cause a kind of Brownian movements in our society. Certain very politicized and interested circles become up and doing against this background. Therefore, it is important to choose the right moment for beginning to amend this law and to determine the major avenues of work,” the Belarusian leader explained.
The President recalled that resolute measures have been recently taken to develop advanced technologies, improve economic relations, optimize the state apparatus, and expand the functions of local authorities. “Therefore, it is essential to analyze the Constitution in this direction,” the head of state believes.
“Strong and independent Belarus should always remain the state prioritizing honest, wise and successful people. Therefore, the interests of the Belarusian people should be a priority in the improvement of our Constitution,” Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.
In his opinion, the Constitutional Court judges should objectively and thoroughly analyze the norms of the Fundamental Law using their high status and knowledge.
“It is essential to evaluate their applicability, compliance with the modern development of the society and international approaches. If we finally decide to amend the Constitution, no one should reproach us. For this purpose, you should study the best global practices. In fact, you know them. You know the leading countries and their constitutions. Therefore, we must use the best global practices. We should not take any norms from any constitutions, just like we did at the dawn of our independence, in order to please anyone. We must develop our laws and, first of all, the Fundamental Law for our country and people,” the President is convinced.”
Alexander Lukashenko also wants proposals on improving the court system in the country from the Constitutional Court. “I want you and the Belarus President’s Administration to submit proposals on raising the efficiency of the entire court system,” the head of state said.
The President reminded that he has recently held a meeting to discuss the performance of law enforcement agencies. After that, a decision was made to review the performance of the court system as well.
“I think that the Constitutional Court can independently, openly and thoroughly analyze the performance of general jurisdiction courts through the prism of information it gets,” the head of state stressed.
The formation of a constitutionally oriented legal awareness in modern conditions was discussed during the meeting. The issues were reviewed in various aspects, both in terms of improving the legal framework and enhancing the interaction between the government bodies and also in terms of raising the public legal awareness, inserting the relevant programs and techniques in the educational process at different stages.
The head of state agreed that “seeds” of this process should be sown as early as secondary school. However, the President drew attention to work in universities. “I would like you to do some teaching in our main universities and see what is going on over there. You are well-trained and respected specialists. Students will listen to you. At the same time you will feel what and how we teach to future lawyers. We have a great lot of problems. I often run into them personally as I deal with various issues and oversee matters. We have a lot of problems among practicing lawyers,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state mentioned the reformation of the Public Administration Academy as an example. “We would like to redesign the academy in this regard. It is a large sphere of work of civil servants. The academy trains people, who know how to manage things, the people the state will need tomorrow. We should shortlist such people. Second, we should teach them what we need starting with foreign languages so that they could speak fluently — some of them may become ministers, vice premiers, or the prime minister tomorrow — and ending with not exactly knowledge, but legal awareness. Nobody can take care of it better than judges of the Constitutional Court,” Alexander Lukashenko pointed out.
He remarked that the improvement of the education process is an important matter for all universities, in particular, the matters of curricula, training, recruitment of professors… “Because today they talk about salaries for professors… On the other hand, what is there to pay for? Everything is stale. Representatives of IT companies were invited to take a look at universities. They were stunned. They said they are ready to pay and can even seek and hire professors to train specialists for the companies because what universities offer now is a thing of the past. Salaries are not the problem. But we should feel blame in this regard, too. We should give a nudge to the process,” the head of state said.
“We had a brief look at secondary school. We are doing something over there. It seems we have even fixed some things. I can see it because I now ‘go to school anew’ [together with my youngest son]. But we have not touched universities. It is necessary to train new specialists. As far as legal profession is concerned, I would like members of the Constitutional Court to pitch in. If you need some legal framework for it, submit your proposals and we will formalize them,” the President concluded.
Chairman of Belarus’ Constitutional Court Piotr Miklashevich said that further strengthening of the constitutional legality stipulates the promotion of legal awareness and knowledge based on the deep understanding and perception of the values and principles of the Constitution. Certainly, we must cultivate the legal awareness and knowledge of people and government officials who are engaged in professional activities on the constitutional basis.
The issues of promoting the constitutionally oriented awareness in modern conditions, constitutionalization of law were one of the most talked about at the meeting with the President. The role of the Constitutional Court in eliminating the loopholes in legal acts, conflicts of laws and legal uncertainty was also discussed during the meeting.
One of the issues that topped the agenda of the meeting was the access to constitutional justice for citizens. Today the law regulates the procedure for indirect access through entities authorized to apply to the Constitutional Court with proposals to verify regulatory legal acts. The participants of the meeting discussed the ways to intensify this work and make it more efficient.
The meeting also touched upon the issue of international cooperation of the Constitutional Court. Deputy Chairwoman of the court Natalya Karpovich stated that in 2019 the country will be marking 25 years of its Constitution and the constitutional justice. A suggestion was made to organize an international conference as part of the celebrations and invite representatives of foreign constitutional courts and international organizations on constitutional justice. Alexander Lukashenko supported the initiative to hold such a forum.