Deputies offer draft bill on humanising criminal procedural legislation

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, believes it is important to take state measures to emancipate business initiative in Belarus, under conditions of objective business risk. The Head of State made the announcement at a recent session to discuss further improvements to criminal law and criminal procedural law
By Vasily Kharitonov

With this aim a draft law has been prepared ‘On Introducing Amendments and Additions to the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Administrative Offences Code, and the Execution Procedures Code of the Republic of Belarus’.
Prepared upon the instruction of the President, the document is the most important bill developed in recent years, aiming to liberalise and humanise criminal law and criminal procedural legislation.

The bill contains serious innovations, including the legalisation of certain conditions of business risk, a pre-trial collaboration agreement and the introduction of criminal law redress. Moreover, the draft law decriminalises definite individual actions posing no threat to the public and contains other essential changes in this sphere. There are plans to adjust several articles of the Criminal Code in favour of softer punishments and to optimise punishment periods, while introducing alternative kinds of answerability.

The President stressed, “Undoubtedly, the decision to go through with these norms should be thoroughly discussed.” He pointed out that it is necessary to look carefully at the consequences of the suggested measures and to clearly envisage the mechanism for their practical implementation, saying, “We should be absolutely confident that the optimisation of criminal law instruments, as envisaged by the draft, will not lead to impunity for those who have committed actions posing danger to the state, society or our citizens.”

The President remarked that criminal prosecution bodies should have a set of instruments to fight corruption and other crimes, sufficient to make punishment inevitable. He added, “On the other hand, measures should truly emancipate business initiatives, under conditions of objective entrepreneurial risk. Criminal law should not intimidate economic entities acting strictly within the law and in no way related to criminals.”

Mr. Lukashenko underlined, “It’s vital for us to make a precise decision meeting the interests of society and our country. Any amendments to the law, legal acts and legislation as a whole should be purposeful. We cannot do without these measures but should base our decisions exclusively on real life situations. We must not act too hastily, as we must consider the society in which we live and in which the state is developing. The interests of the state and our people should be at the heart of any change, reform or innovation.”

During the session, juridical circles were divided on several issues: in particular, the pre-trial collaboration agreement. The developers of the document suggest introducing the notions of economic and business risk but it’s important to achieve a balance here, to rule out official crimes and corruption. Several articles within the bill envisage fines instead of imprisonment and specify conditions for pledges. The innovations should allow courts to take a more flexible approach to punishment, judging suitable consequences for each case individually.

The draft law will be submitted to Parliament for discussion with representatives of juridical circles.
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