Aleksandr Lukashenko holds meeting to performance improvement of prosecution bodies
President of the Republic of Belarus demanded the Prosecutor General's Office to raise the effectiveness of work to protect the rights of citizens. The head of state made such a statement at the government session held on 2 August to discuss performance improvement of prosecution bodies.
At the beginning of the meeting the President stressed the event should have a working character and be devoid of the elements of solemnity. "We should discuss the situation in the country, in law enforcement agencies, the role and place of the Prosecutor General's Office in the system," he said.
According to the President, the contribution of prosecution bodies to ensuring the reign of law, better public security and stability is huge . " In recent years the number of grave crimes has dwindled thanks to the coordinating role of the Prosecutor General's Office. However, the system of this law enforcement body cannot remain static. It should be developed and should grow together with the society in order to be able to promptly and adequately respond to modern challenges, " Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Unfortunately, we cannot normally, promptly, and adequately respond to these modern challenges every time. Prosecutors do not have an integral vision of their role in the law enforcement system that is being reformed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. The President believes that practical work is often substituted with multiple formal meetings, discussions and paper shuffling. “I cannot see why time is spent doing it if the activity does not produce real benefits. We need results,” the head of state made it clear.
" Prosecutor General's Office is heavily involved in theories and lawmaking research practicing compartmentalized approaches while discarding interests and interaction with other agencies . As a result, their proposals often had a declarative and debatable character. They lack thoroughness, particularly those concerning financial costs, scientific and human resources support. With personnel diverted to non-core functions, control in priority areas has weakened,” the head of state noted.
“Rights and interests of economic entities are violated in virtually all branches of the economy. Bureaucratic tyranny, restricted competition and unjustified preferences have yet to be eradicated. All in all, the state of justice in the economy is far from the ideal one. Your work in cooperation with the government is extremely important here,” the head of state told prosecutors.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that when he appointed Alexander Konyuk Prosecutor General, he gave the instruction to raise the effectiveness of prosecution agencies. The President drew attention to key problems in the operation of the Prosecutor General’s Office that need to be resolved. Particularly, the President urged to step up efforts to fight corruption, organize effective interaction of the Prosecutor General’s Office with other authorized agencies, and address the causes that interfere with effective operation. Aleksandr Lukashenko also pointed out problems concerning personnel recruitment and distribution. “It is alarming that in recent years the process of personnel renewal has become permanent,” the President explained. He gave instructions to build an effective human resources system. He said that the creation of the Investigation Committee could not be cited as the reason for brain drain. “Do not make it look like a tragedy. Contrariwise, look on the bright side. The Investigation Committee now employs professionals. Investigation quality will only get better because of it since investigation is the peak of the entire law enforcement system,” the head of state said. Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that efforts should be put into replenishing ranks of the Prosecutor General’s Office with skilled workers.
Participants of the session also discussed whether key goals of the investigation system reform are being achieved, namely the protection of citizens’ rights and procedural independence of investigators.
Prosecutor General Alexander Konyuk said that the formation of the Investigation Committee was a timely and reasonable decision. As a result, they have built an optimal and balanced system of investigation, eliminated inter-agency barriers, improved many aspects of investigation work. "The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigation Committee maintain constructive business relations," Alexander Konyuk said. When mistakes and violations are discovered by joint efforts and become the issue of joint discussion, it is much easier to eliminate them, the official is convinced.
During the meeting, attention was drawn to a number of personnel problems. According to the head of state, there is a need to develop a system to recruit personnel for prosecution bodies. “You should select strong-willed people. This is your future personnel. We need to develop a certain system here,” the President said.
The President instructed to elaborate the relevant proposals so as to make concrete steps starting the next year already. “We should select the right people immediately after school and the army service, those who will work not only for money but will be committed to the idea of protecting human rights and interests, their Homeland,” the head of state stressed.
“It does not mean, however, that I forget about social security here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded the attendees about the housing program which is in full swing in the country. The program envisages help in acquisition of dwelling first of all to large families and servicemen. With this Aleksandr Lukashenko warned against populism in the financial and economic fields.
Aleksandr Lukashenko sees no reason to delimit the responsibilities of the prosecutor’s office from other law enforcement bodies and watchdogs. “You should be able to terminate any violation of the law and immediately make any government body aware of the violation of the registration and human rights. The prosecutor can interfere in any area if he sees there is something wrong there. That does not mean, however, that you should conduct some sort of checks in the room of the State Control Committee or executive bodies. Although perhaps they are needed somewhere. You have the right to use any specialist to assess the situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The President noted that prosecutors have broad powers: “You even can bring the governor to the responsibility if he is guilty. And not even governors, any minister. A call to the Prosecutor General, he has got a hot line with the President. He gets the relevant permit for certain actions. The system is clear and simple. That is why there is no need to divide the powers. At the same time they should not be duplicated either."
Speaking about the currently changing functions of prosecutors, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that some countries start setting up the ombudsman institute to protect human rights. “In this situation the prosecutor should stand next to the President. You are the main foothold in the protection of human rights: the right to live, work, get a sound salary,” the head of state stressed.
“We should deal with people’s problems. This is our main task. We should see the country and support what it really needs,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
As it was noted during the session, the practice of appointing alternative punishments not involving imprisonment is getting increasingly widespread. The Supreme Court together with the Prosecutor General Office have submitted to the head of state a new package of legislative proposals on further humanization of criminal responsibility for economic crimes, development of the adversarial principle, equality of the parties in a criminal process.
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again drew attention to the need for an informed decision while taking a person into custody. “Of course, there are people who are dangerous to society, whose guilt is not in doubt. The approach should be the most stringent in these cases,” the head of state said. But at the same time, there are other cases. In particular, the President cited the example of the head of Gomelglass, who was held in custody for more than a year but eventually was acquitted. “If there is no flight risk, then there is no need for custody,” the head of state believes. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that a very cautious approach is needed in every case, and, if possible, it should be based on the interests of the person.
The President also drew attention to the fight against corruption-related crimes.
According to the President, the fight against corruption is weak today. The main problem here is that the law enforcement bodies do not do enough to prevent corruption. “Corruption is a “disease” of public servants. But more often it is scapegoats whom we punish. The fight against corruption is the fight against those who is behind this evil, not scapegoats,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The President noted that he intends to revisit the issues of fight against corruption, to review the list of corruption-related crimes taking into account the already gained experience.
“We will create a commission consisting of relatively independent people, not government officials, and put the head of the Presidential Administration and the State Secretary of the Security Council in charge of this work. We will audit the documents and then give it to you for review so that you could put your remarks to improve this or that document, this or that proposal,” the President said.
At the government session, Aleksandr Lukashenko also urged to prevent any provocations at the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Belarus.
“We are convinced that the forthcoming political campaign will be held at the adequate level and under your close surveillance,” the head of state noted addressing those present at the meeting. “Your major task is to make sure the law is observed during the election campaign. You should coordinate the work together with other law-enforcement bodies, the Central Election Commission, and take an immediate response to any violations. Any provocative situations should be ruled out,” the President said.