The path of criminal justice reform should rely on solid confidence

The meeting to discuss the draft law on revising the criminal justice system

The correction of criminal and criminal procedure legislation shouldn’t create conditions for a withdrawal from responsibility in any way
By Vasily Kharitonov

The correction of criminal and criminal procedure legislation shouldn’t create conditions for a withdrawal from responsibility in any way

justice.jpgAt a meeting to discuss the draft law on revising the criminal justice system the Head of State underlined that the principle of the inevitability of punishment should remain unshakable. “Any kinds of changes to the criminal justice mechanism should, one way or another, improve or amplify this principle, but not create the conditions that allow criminals to escape punishment,” noted Alexander Lukashenko. “We do not have any right to condone impunity.”

The Head of State noted that it is an established tradition for the President to discuss the most important legal acts, regulations and documents that have or will have a great impact on the lives of people and the entire society. The draft law had been discussed in August last year and it provided for the use of a pre-trial agreement on co-operation, introduction of compensation in criminal cases and absence of persecution in the event of business risks. There were plans to decriminalise certain actions that do not pose major threats to society and to toughen fines for economic crimes, while also making a range of other alterations.

The participants of the discussion agreed that the draft law was timely and necessary for our country. Meanwhile, the President instructed MPs, law enforcement agencies and representatives of the business community to discuss the draft law in detail and make a final and well-balanced decision on all its provisions, taking into consideration the interests of the state, society and citizens.

Mr. Lukashenko warned, “Possible amendments to the criminal law should not downgrade the very essence of the law. No matter what kinds of amendments are introduced, the law should remain an efficient instrument to prevent and punish crime.”

According to the Head of State, proper handling of criminal cases is also important. “Investigations that drag for a long time and bring no results should not be commonplace,” demanded the President. “A prosecutor, investigators and courts should use modern legal instruments that can secure a fast and objective investigation and examination of criminal cases”.

The MPs are set to inform the attendees about their work on the draft law and the way the above-mentioned tasks are addressed.

Mr. Lukashenko underlined that he would like to hear views on possible consequences of the planned adjustments and reforms. “For example, do you have an idea how these reforms will be implemented? In other words, the law should not be lifeless, in particular these new norms. Make sure you will be able to materialise these decisions,” said the Head of State. He also wondered whether the amendments that are aimed at resolving the issues of law enforcement practice will turn into loopholes for criminals.

The pre-trial agreement on co-operation is designed to improve crime detection rather than reduce the term of imprisonment for criminals, noted the President at the session.

According to the Head of State, the pre-trial agreement on co-operation has triggered heated debates. In particular, the document says that in order to reduce the term of punishment, a criminal will need to provide information on the crimes committed by other people. In this respect, the President expressed concern, “Does it not mean that criminals will be able to shower the investigation agencies with ‘tales’ about alleged accomplices? Will not they give false testimony for the sake of their necks? Are you confident the agreement will not become a way for dangerous offenders to avoid their deserved punishment?” Finally, the Head of State wondered about the efficiency of this instrument and whether it will be able to enhance the crime detection rate.

The session also tackled such forms of punishment as fines, criminal and legal redress. “We have been making headway in this area, but are there guarantees that such measures will be used in respect of the people who deserve leniency?” asked the President. The Belarusian leader also wondered if financial punishment would help correct such people, and if it is worth introducing this form of punishment in respect to all the crimes envisaged in the document.

Alexander Lukashenko stressed that one should have clear answers to the above-mentioned questions, and to have solid confidence in the correctness of the path of the improvement of criminal and criminal procedure legislation, fixed by the draft law.
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