CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN PROSECUTORS(CCPE)
Questionnaire for the preparation of the Opinion No. 11 of the CCPE:
“Quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors,
including as regards the fight against organised crime and terrorism”
1. Does the prosecution service in your country work strategically with ensuring quality in the work of prosecutors? If yes, how is that done?
Yes. The procedure can briefly be described as follows: first, there is a phase of definition of strategic objectives, followed by a definition of procedural objectives and of projects to pursue the fulfilment of the strategic objectives. Finally, there is a phase of monitoring and evaluation of results.
Thus, every three years, the Prosecutor-General’s Office defines strategic objectives in four major areas: priority areas of intervention, quality of performance, procedural promptness and organisational quality.
On the basis of the objectives thus outlined, annual strategic objectives are defined in July. Every department of the Public Prosecution Service (not only the 23 local “Procuradorias da República” - District Prosecutors’ Offices, into which the national territory is divided, but also central departments, namely the Central Department of Criminal Investigation and Prosecution – DCIAP, which deals with the most serious type of criminality) must accordingly define, also on an annual basis, in September, projects and local procedural objectives which are then submitted for approval to the Prosecutor-General’s Office.
For the triennium 2015-2018, the following strategic areas were defined by the Prosecutor General:
Priority areas: Corruption and economic and financial criminality (by adopting a Plan of the Public Prosecution Service against corruption), Domestic violence, Cybercrime and digital proof, Terrorism, Recovery of assets, Protection of the victims, Rights of children and youth, Rights of the elderly, Environment and urbanism, Rights of the consumers, Rights of workers, Human rights.
Quality of performance: Promotion of equality of citizens before the law, Integrated conception of the intervention of the Public Prosecution in the different procedural stages and jurisdictions, Coordination of the intervention among different jurisdictions, Strengthening the effective direction of the inquiry, Coordination with Criminal Police and law enforcement agencies and other entities, Quality in public attendance, Simplification and clarity of the intervention of the Public Prosecution, Valuing the intervention of Public Prosecution during the trial stage, International judicial cooperation and Cooperation with other legal professions.
Procedural promptness: Timely decision on the merits, Accessibility in public attendance
Organisational quality: Communication policy, Public Prosecution Service’s portal/Homepage of the district court and Press Office, Human resources training, Adequate deployment of human resources as regards the activity of Public Prosecution, Financial and administrative autonomy, Harmonisation of procedures and of registration criteria, Improvement of information technologies and support technologies as regards the activity of Public Prosecution.
Once the objectives have been homologated, the “Procuradorias da República” are responsible for the execution of the proposed projects and for the preparation both of a biannual, as well as of an annual report, for the purpose of assessing to what extent these objectives have been met, the measures that were adopted thereto and amendments to be proposed.
Reports thus submitted are then evaluated by the Prosecutor-General’s Office to serve as a basis for the definition of the objectives for the following year.
2. Which criteria are considered crucial in your country for securing the highest quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors: their independence, impartiality, human and material resources, conditions of work etc.? Please briefly describe.
Being autonomy, both internal and external, as well as impartiality, fundamental values of the activity of the Public Prosecution Service, criteria adopted to evaluate the quality and efficiency of professional conduct of prosecutors are related to the degree of fulfilment of proposed and homologated objectives on an annual basis, namely:
a) Evaluation of the degree of fulfilment and of the efficiency of coordination mechanisms among jurisdictions and with external entities, involving coordination meetings, sharing of best practices and setting-up of contact networks with court auxiliaries.
b) Evaluation of the degree of fulfilment of objectives in terms of reduction in the duration of proceedings relating specifically to the Public Prosecution, reduction of pendencies and degree of success of the activity of the Public Prosecution during the trial stage.
c) Evaluation of adequate deployment of human and material resources in view of coping with the service volumes of each one of the departments of the Public Prosecution Service.
As regards a general qualitative monitoring, the coordinating prosecutors of the 23 “Procuradorias da República” have to inform the Prosecutor-General’s Office, in their annual reports, of the general quality of the activity performed by the Public Prosecution, as evaluated by the members of the Public Prosecution themselves, as well as by the general public, pointing out, whenever necessary, measures to improve it.
3. Are there any indicators, formal or informal, used in your country in order to assess the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors, for example, the number of cases considered, the length of the consideration, the complexity of the cases considered etc.? Please briefly describe.
There are indeed statistical indicators to assess the quantity and quality of the work performed by Portuguese public prosecutors.
Regarding criminal investigation cases, there are indeed data available defining, for a specific time period:
- The number of cases lodged,
- The number of cases brought to a close,
- Of these cases, the number of cases leading to accusation or to dismissal, and those where one of the simplified and consensual forms of proceedings, as laid down in the Criminal Procedure Code – sumário (summary proceeding), sumaríssimo (highly summarised proceeding), abreviado (shortened proceeding) and suspensão provisória do processo (provisional suspension of criminal proceedings) –, was used.
There is also an overall control of all criminal inquiries highlighting those where a criminal investigation took longer than 8 months.
Finally, it is possible to ascertain the number of lodged and closed cases according to the complexity and type of crime and how many of them were against unknown perpetrators.
Regarding the areas of representation by the Public Prosecution Service, be it in criminal, civil, commerce, family and children or labour cases, available statistical data allow to determine the number of lodged and closed cases (even if in some of these jurisdictions there might not have been the intervention of a public prosecutor), as well as the number of appeals lodged by the Public Prosecution Service or the number of appeals to which the PPS had to reply.
In these areas (with the exception of criminal cases), there are indicators available allowing to determine how many actions were instituted by the Public Prosecution Service.
4. Is there a formal or informal procedure for evaluation of the work of prosecutors, how often it is evaluated, by whom, and with what consequences? Do the prosecutors have the right to raise formal or informal objections to the results of the evaluation and to its consequences?
District prosecutors and deputy district prosecutors are periodically evaluated on their functional performance and merit.
These inspections have a formal character (they are defined on an annual basis by the High Council of the Public Prosecution Service, who decides, on the basis of pre-defined objective criteria, who shall be the prosecutors to be inspected) and they take place approximately every 6 years in respect of each prosecutor.
To conduct such inspections, there is a team composed of 15 inspectors, all of them members of the Public Prosecution Service.
As a consequence of the inspection, the performance of a member of the Public Prosecution Service, according to his/her merit, is to be evaluated with Very good, Good with distinction, Good, Sufficient and Insufficient.
This evaluation is relevant for career advancement of prosecutors, be it for transfer or eventual promotion, situations to be assessed on the occasion of every annual move of public prosecutors.
The evaluation as Insufficient implies the suspension from duties of the relevant prosecutor and the undertaking of an inquiry as to whether the person is unfit for the office.
The criteria for the evaluation of public prosecutors, as well as the definition of the degree of functional performance corresponding to each one of the classifications above mentioned, are laid down in the Statute of the Public Prosecution Service and in the Regulation on the Inspections of the Public Prosecution Service and they are, of course, public.
Once the inspection regarding the performance of a public prosecutor is concluded, the inspector draws up a report in which he/she describes, in a concrete manner, the work carried out by the inspected prosecutor, and proposes an evaluation.
Such report is, initially, only submitted to the inspected prosecutor, who has then the possibility, if he/she so wishes, to reply within 15 days.
After the expiry of such period, and if a reply has been produced by the inspected prosecutor, the inspector may make his/her remarks, but shall not refer to new facts that are disadvantageous to the prosecutor concerned (the concerned prosecutor shall be informed of such remarks) and shall then submit the whole inspection proceedings to the High Council of the Public Prosecution Service.
If however no reply is produced by the prosecutor subject to inspection, the inspector submits the inspection proceedings without delay to the High Council of the Public Prosecution Service.
The inspection proceedings, composed by all the elements collected by the inspector, along with the final report and the eventual reply of the inspected prosecutor, are to be considered in a meeting of the Disciplinary Section of the High Council of the Public Prosecution Service (composed by a certain number of members of this Council), in which a written and reasoned decision shall be issued granting an evaluation to the inspected prosecutor (not necessarily coincident with the one proposed by the inspector).
Should the inspected prosecutor disagree with the evaluation given to him/her, he/she may react lodging an appeal before the plenary of the High Council of the Public Prosecution Service (as such, composed by all its members) and later on, lodge an appeal concerning the decision rendered by the High Council of the PPS before the Supreme Administrative Court.
5. As regards the fight against organised crime and terrorism, are there any specific conditions, criteria, procedures or indicators created for prosecutors in your country in order to:
- facilitate their work?
- evaluate their work?
Normally, the most complex cases of organised crime and also terrorist cases are dealt with by DCIAP, which is a Department within the Prosecutor-General’s Office that centralizes these cases, and has competence all over the Portuguese Territory, so this kind of specialization may be considered as a specific condition aiming at facilitating prosecutorial work in this area and allowing for best results.
Evaluation of prosecutorial work is achieved through general periodic inspections regarding each prosecutor working in DCIAP, and there is, moreover, an annual information/evaluation produced by the Director of DCIAP on each of the prosecutors he works with.
6. Are there in your country recent legislative reforms to fight more effectively against organised crime and terrorism and how are these reforms seen in relation to the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors? Please briefly describe.
Portugal has adopted several domestic laws on such matters, namely according to UE recommendations and UN Security Council Resolutions.
For example, at present, Portugal criminalises terrorist financing as a stand-alone offence under its Anti-Terrorism Law (Law 52/2003, last amended by Law 60/2015), which has been in force in its present form as of June 2015.
Mention should, however, be also made to the following legislation:
- Law nr. 25/2008, establishing measures of a preventive and repressive nature to fight against money laundering and terrorism financing;
- Law nr. 53/2008, Law on Domestic Security;
- Law nr. 17/2011, criminalizing public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism, in compliance with Framework Decision nr. 2008/919/JAI, amending Law nr. 52/2003 (Anti-Terrorism Law).
As far as training and conduct duties of public prosecutors are concerned, there are no exceptions for the treatment of suspects or accused person regarding acts of terrorism or highly organized crime vis-à-vis other forms of criminality.
7. Do you consider that current international conventions, as well as international organisations, like Eurojust, Europol and Interpol, are sufficient to effectively fight against organised crime and terrorism?
All the above mentioned international organisations continue to play a very important role to effectively fight against organised crime and terrorism, but there still remains much to be done regarding international harmonisation of domestic laws, either within the European Union or within the Council of Europe, for example regarding disclosure of evidence, forms of evidence that can be used in court, legal competences for prosecutors and Judges, and related areas.
This harmonisation is very difficult to achieve for obvious reasons, and so has been gradually pursued, namely inside the EU, on a step by step approach.
8. What are the major challenges in your country as regards the quality and efficiency of the work of prosecutors and, in particular, their fight against organised crime and terrorism?
The major challenges are probably:
a) The constant need to pursue specialization inside the Public Prosecution Service, but also the need to share information and good practices with prosecutors and judges from other jurisdictions within either the European Union or the Council of Europe;
b) Establishing, on a case by case evaluation, the necessary confidence and trust allowing for the success of International Cooperation requests and transnational investigations;
c) Understanding the constant changes occurring in terrorist and organised crime groups and their modus operandi