Meeting with Presiding Judge of the Supreme Court Valentin Sukalo

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Presiding Judge of the Supreme Court Valentin Sukalo on 17 July. The meeting focused on the performance of the national court system after general courts and economic courts were merged, further optimization of the court system, and ways to improve law enforcement practice in a number of areas.

The head of state said: “I am most of all concerned about the merger of our courts although it happened a long time ago. I would like you to tell me about the current state of affairs.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also asked Valentin Sukalo about possible dangerous trends in the economy bearing in mind the cases the courts deal with. “I would like to know your point of view and your opinion about the work of your colleagues — those, who bring cases to courts, particularly criminal cases. I wonder whether dangerous trends in the economy are emerging or are in place. Economic courts should be able to see such trends depending on what cases they have to deal with,” said the president.

Valentin Sukalo said that the merged court system has worked in this manner in Belarus for three years already. All the main issues have been dealt with, primarily the uniform law enforcement and court proceedings as a whole. “The three-year period has demonstrated that we are adapted. Today the court system is rather stable, rational, and manageable from the organizational point of view,” assured the presiding judge of the Supreme Court of Belarus.

Positive changes have happened as far as the quality and timely justice in general courts and economic courts are concerned. A set of measures has been sketched out in order to allow the court system to faster restore the violated rights of citizens. First of all, measures will be taken to reduce the number of cases when litigation is postponed, suspended, and rescheduled. “We will do everything in order to get lawsuits, particularly civil ones, over with in two court sessions at most,” noted Valentin Sukalo.

The structural optimization of the Belarusian court system was also discussed during the meeting. The Supreme Court and the oblast courts will be optimized. The current number of judges, which is comparatively low, will be preserved. Thus, only high-ranking courts will be optimized. The judicial manpower and the quality of justice will be preserved. The head of state approved of the approach.

Valentin Sukalo told media after the meeting that the court system is ready to operate in new conditions after the optimization. “We have presented the entire legal base for approval. If the documents are approved, we will start working in new conditions as from 1 August. It is the date set by the head of state,” said the official.

Bankruptcy and ways to improve the efficiency of this instrument were also discussed during the meeting. It was decided that the matter would be revised at a later date.

The president was also informed about a number of criminal cases, the quality of which pre-trial investigation he keeps an eye on.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was also interested in progress in building a new Supreme Court building in Minsk. The work began in October 2016 and proceeds ahead of schedule. The work is expected to finish by 7 November 2018.