(6th SESSION, BUDAPEST 30 AND 31 MAY 2005)


Margaret Killerby, Head of the Department of Crime Problems, DG1, Council of Europe

  1. Mr President of the Republic, Mr President of the Supreme Court, Mr Vice President of the Parliament, Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice, Prosecutor General and Deputy Prosecutor General, Head of the National Police, Prosecutors General of European States, ladies and gentlemen :  On behalf of the Council of Europe may I thank you Mr President and the Prosecutor General not only for the kind invitation to hold this session of the Conference of Prosecutors General of Europe in your delightful country but also for your warm welcome in the Chamber of this beautiful historical Parliament building.

  1. Fifteen years ago[1] Mr President your country was the first of the new member States from Central and Eastern Europe to become a member State of the Council of Europe. In 1995 a second European Youth Centre, similar to the one in Strasbourg, was established in Budapest. Now, following the many changes which have taken place, your country is a member of the European Union.

  1. We all welcome very much your recognition of the importance of the role of the public prosecutor and it is of course very appropriate to discuss international co-operation in a country which has 7 neighbouring countries.

  1. It was in 2000, on the occasion of the finalisation of the Recommendation on the public prosecution,[2] that high level prosecutors were invited to a Conference in Strasbourg. [3] Following the success of this Conference and the need expressed by prosecutors, yearly Conferences have been organised to discuss the development of the prosecution services in particular in relation to the principles contained in the Recommendation. It is clear that, in order to be effective, these principles must be well-known, accepted and properly followed by all concerned. Although the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) did not consider it necessary to attach a monitoring mechanism to the Recommendation,  it encouraged you to continue your constructive work on the implementation of the Recommendation.

  1. The main theme of this Conference is the relationship between public prosecutors and the police. A specific chapter in the Recommendation deals with this matter and, as Professor Tak has indicated in his report on this theme, in general « European legal systems empower the prosecutor to scrutinise the lawfulness of police investigations, as well as to monitor the observance of human rights by police. » The new Council for Police Matters (PC-PM), which is represented at your Conference, is considering questions relating to the implementation of the European Code of Police ethics and the results of your discussions will of course be useful for its work.

  1. Tomorrow the Conference will consider the competencies of public prosecutors outside the criminal field. This is particularly important as, although prosecutors in some counties do have such additional tasks, they are not covered by the Recommendation. Therefore it may be necessary to prepare additional provisions to cover these cases.

  1. The Conference will also consider tomorrow guidelines on ethics and conduct for public prosecutors. The Recommendation invites States to ensure that, in carrying out their duties, public prosecutors are bound by “codes of conduct.” Therefore draft European guidelines for public prosecutors on ethics and conduct have been prepared for consideration and adoption. These Guidelines, which contain widely accepted general principles for use at a national level, could possibly be used at a later stage as a basis for a Recommendation. The draft includes a provision that prosecutors should further international co-operation to the largest extent possible.

  1. Although the Conferences of Prosecutors General of Europe are young, having only begun in 2000, they have rapidly grown into an important part of the work of the Council of Europe. The continuation and success of this work are assured and we are grateful to our States for the kind invitations to host Conferences which have been made in the past and for the future. As regards future Conferences the next Conferences will take place in 2006 in the Russian Federation and Ireland has also indicated that it would like to host a Conference.

  1. I shall now give you some brief information about some of the main Council of Europe events which have taken place since your last Conference and which may be of interest to public prosecutors.

  1.  As regards new Conventions the following three Council of Europe Conventions were opened to signature during the recent Summit and deal with:
  1. the prevention of terrorism[4];
  2. the laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime and on the financing of terrorism;[5]
  3. action against trafficking in human beings.[6]

  1.  In addition the Convention on cybercrime[7] was opened to signature in Budapest and came into force on 1 July 2004 and already applies between 10 States including Hungary. The Convention has also been signed by over 30 States and, if your State has not ratified, I should like to underline the importance of doing so as soon as possible. This is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks and its Protocol extends the Convention’s scope to offences of racist or xenophobic propaganda.

  1.  Two new Recommendations were adopted by the Committee of Ministers last month and these Recommendations deal with:

a.       the protection of witnesses and collaborators of justice;[8]

b.      special investigation techniques in relation to serious crimes including acts of terrorism.[9]

  1.  Earlier this year the European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ) published comparative data on the European judicial systems. The Chapter on public prosecutors contains useful information concerning budgets, numbers of prosecutors and salaries, disciplinary proceedings, case load and percentage of convictions and acquittals in cases brought by public prosecutors.

  1.  Increased recognition is being given by all our States to the need to take greater account of the interests of victims and of course public prosecutors have an essential role in this matter. A new Group of Specialists on the assistance to victims and the prevention of victimisation (PC-S-AV) has started its work. After considering assistance to the victims of terrorism it will focus on the wider aspects of assistance to victims in general and update the existing Recommendation on this subject.

  1.  A number of important meetings have taken place this year such as the Third High-Level multilateral meeting of the Ministries of the Interior,[10]  the 26th Conference of the European Ministers of Justice[11], the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe and the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC).

  1.  The Third Summit was held earlier this month[12] in Warsaw and a Declaration and Action Plan were adopted. In addition a Committee of Wise Persons has been instructed to make proposals to ensure the long term effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights taking into account the initial effets of Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  1.  The European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) held its meeting in Strasbourg earlier this year[13] and finalised the moneylaundering Convention and the two Recommendations dealing with witnesses and special investigation techniques. It also elected a new Chair - Claude Debrulle - who is attending this Conference on behalf of the CDPC. The CDPC is currently finalising the European Prison Rules and will, at a later stage, consider the question of a European Prison Charter.

  1.  The CDPC underlined the essential role of the public prosecutor in the criminal justice system of a democratic society and recalled the growing importance of your activities. After taking into account the Conclusions of your Conferences, the CDPC invited the Committee of Ministers to set up a Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) as an advisory body to the Committee of Ministers to be assisted by a Bureau of 11 members appointed by the CCPE.[14]

  1.  The proposed tasks of the CCPE are:

a.       the preparation of a framework overall action plan;

b.      the preparation of opinions following a request from the Committee of Ministers, the CDPC or any other Council of Europe body;

c.       the preparation of opinions for the attention of the CDPC on difficulties concerning the implementation of the Recommendation on public prosecution;

d.      the collection of information about the functioning of prosecution services in Europe;

e.       and last but not least the organisation of Conferences.

  1.  The proposal to set up a Consultative Council of European Prosecutors is now before the Committee of Ministers and it is likely that there will be a favourable response at an early date.

  1.  In conclusion I should like to underline that the strengthening of the role of the public prosecutor is extremely important for us all. Therefore this Conference and your future work will provide invaluable assistance to the European States in strengthening this role both at a national and at a European level.

[1] 16 November 1990

[2] See Recommendation Rec (2000)19 on the role of the public prosecution in the criminal justice system

[3] The Recommendation contains a specific chapter on international co-operation between prosecutors and this chapter in particular refers to:

-          the desirability of direct contacts between public prosecutors of different countries;

-          steps which may be taken to further direct contacts (including regular meetings between prosecutors general and the preparation of lists of contact persons);

-          promoting the awareness of the need for active participation in international co-operation;

-          promoting the specialisation of some public prosecutors in the field of international co-operation;

-          improving the system concerning requests for mutual assistance.

[4] This Convention is designed to help States prevent terrorism and to reinforce international co-operation concerning prevention. It makes acts of public provocation to commit a terrorist act and recruitment or training for terrorism which may lead to the commission of a criminal offence criminal offences. Co-operation is to be strengthened and the protection and compensation of victims of terrorism improved. There is a duty to investigate for the purpose of prosecution or extradition.

[5] This Convention, which deals with the prevention and control of moneylaundering, updates and extends the 1990 moneylaundering Convention and covers the financing of terrorism.

[6] This Convention prevents and combats trafficking, deals with victim protection and contains an independent monitoring mechanism: the Group of experts on action against trafficking in human beings  GRETA.

[7] The Convention aims at pursuing a common criminal policy to protect society against cybercrime. It deals particularly with infringements of copyright, computer-related fraud, child ponography and violations of network security. It also contains a series of powers and procedures such as the search of computer networks and interception.

[8] Recommendation Rec (2005)9 ensures that witnesses and collaborators of justice may testify freely and without being subject to any act of intimidation. The question of judicial co-operation and the protection of witnesses and collaborators of justice will now be considered by the Committee of experts on the operation of European Conventions in the penal field (PC-OC) in the light of Article 23 (which deals with witness protection) of the Second Protocol to the European Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters.

[9] Recommendation Rec (2005) 10 contains guidance for the use of such techniques.

[10] Warsaw, 17 and 18 March 2005

[11] This Conference took place in Helsinki on 7 and 8 April 2005. The European Ministers adopted a number of Resolutions and, for example, agreed on the importance of promoting the restorative justice approach in  their criminal justice systems (Resolution No 2 on the social mission of the criminal justice system – restorative justice), resolved to pursue their efforts to reinforce the fight against terrorism and so increase the security of citizens (Resolution No 3 on combating terrorism) and noted the evolution of transborder criminality (Resolution No 5 on the functioning of Council of Europe Conventions on judicial co-operation in criminal matters).

[12] 16 and 17 May 2005

[13] 7 to 11 March 2005

[14] The CCPE will work in particular with the CDPC and the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) and will have a sufficient institutional link with the CDPC.