29 MAY 2002
CONFERENCE OF PROSECUTORS GENERAL OF EUROPE
12-14 MAY 2002, LJUBLJANA
ad 1. The Hungarian Organisation of Public Prosecutions (OPP) is represented by
Dr. Péter POLT, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Hungary
Visitors' address: Budapest V. kerület Markó utca 16.
Postal address: Budapest, Pf. 438 H-1372 Hungary
Phone: +36 1 269 2861
Fax: +36 1 269 2862
The OPP is independent of both the Judiciary and the Government, including the Ministry of Justice. The Hungarian National Council of the Judiciary is an independent state organ, which is exclusively responsible for the administration of the courts. The administration of all prosecutor offices is the responsibility of the Prosecutor General of Hungary and his Office. Although they are not relevant in the case of Hungary, the requested data are as follows: name of the President of the National Council of the Judiciary: Dr. Pál SOLT, Address: 1055 Budapest Szalay utca 16. Phone: +36 1 332 6170 Fax: +36 1 312 0841 (not relevant).
Under the provisions of Act No. LXXX of 1994 on the Status of Prosecutors, a Council of Prosecutors (ügyészi tanács) exists at each county prosecution office and at the Office of the Prosecutor General. Prosecutors elect the members of the councils amongst themselves for five years. The councils give opinion about the nomination and dismissal of prosecutors. The councils also give opinion when they are asked to do so, and in cases stipulated by law.
It is also the Act on the Status of Prosecutors Act which provides that a Professional Board of Prosecutors (szakmai kollégium) shall exist at each county prosecution office and at the Office of the Prosecutor General. These boards form opinion and give advice in questions concerning the theory and the practice of the prosecutorial profession. The professional boards are presided over by the Prosecutor General or the County Chief Prosecutor, and they are the persons who may convene the meetings of the boards.
Hungarian prosecutors have two associations. Both are professional, independent, non-profit civil organisations, operating on voluntary basis. Their activities are regulated by Act No. II of 1989 on the Associations.
The National Association of Public Prosecutors was established in 1990, and it has currently 800 members out of the 1300 Hungarian prosecutors.
The President of the Association is:
Dr. Tamás Fónay, Chief Prosecutor of the city of Siklós
Mailing address: 1055 Budapest Markó utca 27.
Phone and fax: + 36 72 352 400)
The Pro-Justicia Association is a brand-new organisation: it was registered on 11 March 2002. This Association recruits its membership from staff members other than fully-fledged prosecutors (ie. trainee prosecutors, junior prosecutors, clerks, prosecutorial investigators, etc.)
The President of the association is:
Dr. Réka Pálos, trainee prosecutor
Address: 1054 Budapest Akadémia utca 13.
Phone and fax: +36 1 282 9774)
Training and further training of prosecutors, junior prosecutors and trainee prosecutors, including the preparation of the latter for professional exams, is the responsibility of the Division for Further Training at the Office of the Prosecutor General. The head of the Division is:
Dr. Istvánné Körmendy, Prosecutor
Address: 1055 Budapest Markó utca 16.
Phone: + 36 1 269 26 00
Fax: +36 1 269 2841)
A running Phare Twinning project common for judges and prosecutors (HU 0103-01) aims, among others, at the modernisation of the training system of public prosecutors. A feasibility study on the best possible ways of training is going to be prepared by distinguished EU experts in the framework of this Phare project. A provisional training centre has already been established for prosecutors in Balatonlelle, which is operational.
Ad.2 These days, preoccupations of Hungarian prosecutors are as follows:
a.) preparation for the second phase of the reform process within the OPP;
b.) preparation for the application of the amended Criminal Code and the New Code on Criminal Procedure, as well as for the functioning of the Regional Prosecutor's Office attached to the Court(s) of Appeal;
c.) final phase of preparation for EU accession;
d.) improving the overall training-system;
e.) IT development;
f.) improving the remuneration of prosecutors.
A comprehensive structural reform was implemented within the OPP in 2001, with a view to respond to the new challenges of the 3rd millennium. The need for more effective fight against new forms of crime (especially organised, economic, environmental ones and corruption), as well as the increasing workload and the complexity of cases made it necessary to establish new units and redistribute human and financial resources within the OPP.
The main elements of this reform were as follows:
- establishment of the Central Prosecutorial Investigation Office at the Budapest Chief Public Prosecution Office, with nation-wide competence to investigate cases of national importance;
- establishment of the Division of Special Cases at the Office of the Prosecutor General to exercise reinforced supervision over the investigation of especially complex cases, such as corruption, organised and economic crimes;
- creation of a new internal structure to ensure comprehensive protection for the environment by different branches (administrative, civil, criminal, etc.) of the law;
- giving priority to infrastructural developments, especially to installing IT facilities and networks;
- laying down the structural framework to ensure the integration of the OPP into European judicial co-operation through establishing a new department dealing with European affairs at the Office of the Prosecutor General and through designating prosecutors within all county offices to facilitate direct contacts in mutual assistance cases.
Experience shows that the reform was successful. Even though the workload has increased since the reform, the performance of the prosecutors has improved or preserved its high quality. Prosecutor's offices have been functioning smoothly, without any backlog.
The reform process, however, is part of an overall strategy; thus, it should continue in 2002-2003. The second phase of the reform is currently under preparation. A detailed questionnaire has already been distributed among high-ranking prosecutors, asking them for proposals to make the structures and work even more efficient.
· A new Code on Criminal Procedure will enter into force on 1 January 2003. Under the new Code, the powers of the prosecutor will significantly increase. The prosecutor will fully direct the phase of investigation and instruct the investigating authorities. The Hungarian inquisitorial type of criminal proceedings will shift to the adversarial model with a more active participation of the prosecutor in the court proceedings. An intense preparatory work necessary to apply the new Code, including training, which is under way.
· Under acts of Parliament and decisions of the Constitutional Court, new Regional Courts of Appeal will be established as from 1 January 2003. The new courts will take over the competence of the Supreme Court to decide appeal cases, and by doing so, they will lessen the workload of the latter. (Currently, the Supreme Court has an appellate court function as well.) Since these Courts of Appeal are not able to function without prosecution offices, new prosecution offices attached to the courts of appeal will also be established.
Preparation for EU accession is a complex task: it includes internal reforms, the installation of modern information technology infrastructure (including networks), training in EC and third pillar law, intensive language training for the middle age generation of prosecutors (prosecutors belonging to the younger generation already speak one or more foreign languages), and last but mot least, the integration the Hungarian prosecutors into the mechanism of the European judicial co-operation. In this respect, the OPP is currently a beneficiary of three (one training and two IT) ongoing Phare programmes, and many Phare horizontal programmes.
Training and further training of prosecutors is considered as a high priority.
The establishment of a central training institute is regarded as of vital importance for trainee prosecutors. This training centre already operates. The basic training for trainee prosecutors consists of on-the-job training as well as a centralised training on the basis of unified curricula.
Further training of prosecutors is carried out in different fields. The amendments of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure and other legal rules as well as the new forms of crime make the continuous training indispensable.
The preparation of prosecutors for the application of the EU acquis has been regarded as of special importance for several years. Training in community and third pillar law has been intensified since 2000. In that year, a Phare training programme was implemented, in 2002 another Phare training programme will start. Horizontal Phare programmes, many study visits provided by EU member states, different kinds of seminars and workshops familiarised prosecutors with community law and method and techniques of judicial co-operation, as well as comparative law. Many prosecutors have a special degree in EU law or studied EU law at the university.
Language training is also part of the preparation for EU membership. The overwhelming majority of prosecutors belonging to the younger generation speak foreign languages. For the middle-age generation, Phare language training were organised in 2000, and this training was continued in 2001, from the OPP's own financial resources.
The IT infrastructure is developed by using various financial resources: Phare supports and Government funds. The two Phare IT programmes enables the OPP to put in place a complete data processing and network system, which is indispensable to the OPP's activities.
The overwhelming majority of prosecutors and staff members will be trained in using the new system. All are required to sit for ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) examination. The ECDL training is financed exclusively from Hungarian resources (about 800.000 Euro).
Improving the remuneration of prosecutors and judges is on the agenda of the OPP as well as the National Council of the Judiciary. They have already accepted a joint concept. The success of all these efforts depends on whether the Government wishes to raise the remuneration of judges and prosecutors at the level of the highest-ranking civil servants or not.
Ad 3. Recommendation 2000 (19) and its Explanatory Report have been translated into Hungarian by the Head of Secretariat for International and European Affairs. In the beginning of 2001, both were published in the Law Journal of Prosecutors. The circulation of this Law Journal is the largest possible. The Recommendation and its Explanatory Report reached each prosecutor, junior prosecutor and trainee prosecutor and all who may be concerned.
Ad 4. International co-operation
Under Act No. XXXVIII of l996 on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, there exist two central authorities in the field of judicial co-operation: the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Justice. Sections 70-71 of the Act provide that it is the Prosecutor General of Hungary who accepts requests for procedural assistance and takes measures to forward the requests to the competent prosecutors to implement them. If a foreign judicial authority specifically requests implementation by a court, the Prosecutor General forwards the request for legal assistance to the Minister of Justice, who forwards it to the locally competent court for implementation. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of letters rogatory and other forms of request are dealt with prosecutors and implemented under their supervision. The Ministry of Justice and the courts are only involved in mutual assistance cases where the request specifies that it should be implemented by a court.
According to Hungary's declaration to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance courts, public prosecutor's offices, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Prosecutor General shall be deemed judicial authorities for the purpose of the Convention. Hungary also declared in 1993 that requests addressed to its judicial authorities for assistance shall be sent to the Ministry of Justice. In practice, requests are usually sent directly to the Office of the Prosecutor General in order to speed up and facilitate the implementation. (The Ministry of Justice has no powers to implement requests or instruct prosecutors. Sending the requests to the Ministry is basically regarded as a time consuming exercise. The OPP thinks that the declaration made in 1993 should be withdrawn. ) .
Within the Office of the Prosecutor General, it is the Secretariat for International and European Affairs that receives all incoming requests. The Secretariat focuses on international aspects of the requests (relevant international law, comparative criminal law context, legal terms, translations, direct contacts with the requesting state's judicial authorities, etc.) Then the requests are dealt with by the Division for International Cases within the Department for Supervision of Investigations. This unit concentrates mainly on the internal criminal law aspects of the requests and takes all the necessary measures to implement them (i.e. forwards them to the competent executing authority through the internal hierarchical channel).
Ad.5 Status of prosecutors and judges
Being a judge or a prosecutor are two distinct professions. Nevertheless, since qualification requirements, professional standards and even the remuneration are the same, the two professions are any time interchangeable.
A Hungarian citizen with a clean criminal record, being graduates from a law faculty is eligible to be appointed as public prosecutor provided that he/she has passed the uniform professional exam and has at least three years of judicial practice. The candidates have to go through a special inquiry whereby their health, physical and psychological conditions are checked. All prosecutorial posts are filled through open competition. The conditions for appointment are the same for judges.
Independence of the public prosecution is a constitutional principle. The Prosecutor General is elected by the Parliament on the proposal of the President of the Republic for six years. He can not be given instructions or orders from anyone, especially not in individual cases. He should strictly observe the laws. The Prosecutor General is responsible to the Parliament, he submits general reports annually and he can be asked questions by any MPs in plenary or in standing committee sessions. The Parliament may accept or reject the Prosecutor General's answer by voting.
The Constitution declares that public prosecutors, including the Prosecutor General, may not be members of any political party and may not engage in political activities. Any other public office is incompatible with the office of prosecutor. The only extra activities, which are allowed to exercise for prosecutors, are academic, teaching or artistic ones.
Since the OPP is a hierarchical organisation, a prosecutor can be instructed within the hierarchy. According to Act LXXX of 1994 the prosecutor is obliged to follow the instructions of the Prosecutor General and his superior. Instructions, at the request of the prosecutor, should be put in writing. The prosecutor is obliged to deny the execution of the instruction that constitutes a crime or a contravention. The prosecutor can deny the execution of the instruction, if its performance would directly and seriously threaten his life, his health or his corporal integrity. If the prosecutor considers the instruction to be incompatible with the laws or his legal conscience, he can ask for his exemption from conducting the case. The request should be put in writing and it should contain the legal opinion of the prosecutor. Compliance with such request cannot be denied. In such a case conduction of the case should be entrusted to another prosecutor or the superior prosecutor can take over the case.
In opposition to prosecutors, judges are independent while deciding individual cases. No pressure or influence shall be put on them. A case shall be heard by that judge of the competent court to whom the case was assigned in conformity with the rules established for the distribution of cases among judges.
A disciplinary offence is committed if the prosecutor deliberately or negligently violates his official duties, or he hurts, by his behaviour or way of life, the dignity of his profession. Disciplinary sanctions applicable against prosecutors are: admonition, reprehension, withdrawal of acknowledgement given by the Prosecutor General, replacement to a one-class lower remuneration, replacement to lower position or removal from leading position, dismissal. Rules of the disciplinary procedure are provided by law in a detailed manner. Disciplinary sanctions are subject to remedies before court. The rules governing disciplinary procedures against judges are identical to these.
As it has been mentioned before, prosecutors are not allowed to belong to political parties or to be involved in political activities. Prosecutors cannot join political parties, but they may found and join trade unions for the protection of their interests and professional associations. The same rules go for judges.
Act LXXX of 1994 provides that the prosecutor is entitled to remuneration equal to the honour of his profession and the responsibility weight upon him. Advancements are dependent on the length of service and the level of the prosecution office the prosecutor serves at. According to theses criteria all prosecutors are ranged into remuneration classes and degrees. In every three years they advanced a degree higher. In case of outstanding work, twice during his career, the prosecutor could be placed to a higher remuneration degree. Remuneration is calculated on the basis of the Budget Act of the given year. It is prescribed by law that the lowest salary of prosecutors should always be the same as the lowest salary of judges. The way of calculating judicial salaries is identical to the prosecutorial one.
Ad 5. The elaboration of a Code of Conduct is under way. There are three draft documents prepared on the basis of the relevant recommendations and resolution of the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the International Association of Public Prosecutors. The National Association of Public Prosecutors has already adopted a Code of Ethics that is binding on the members of the organisation.
 Procedural assistance may especially mean investigative activities, searches for evidence, questioning of suspects and witnesses, hearing of experts, inspections of sites, searches, frisk searches, seizure, forwarding of documents and objects related to criminal proceedings, service of documents, provision of personal and other information in criminal records on Hungarian citizens subject to criminal proceedings in Foreign States.