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, according to all the criteria which can be assessed it can be said that the prosecution service works strategically and effectively.
Art. 80/1 of the Czech Constitution characterises the public prosecution as a body which shall issue and argue public indictments in criminal proceedings; it shall perform other functions as well if a statute so provides.
Public prosecution is of a judicial nature but it does not perform a judicial power. However, its activities are of a similar nature like performance of a judicial power.
Currently, the strucure of public prosecution is identical with the structure of courts. There are 4 following tiers: district, regional, high public prosecutor's offices and the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office.
The heads of particular prosecutor's offices determine the internal organisation of each public prosecutor's office and distribute the work among the prosecutors.
Public prosecution is based on the criteria of specialisations (e.g. corruption, terrorism, extremism, juvenile delinquency etc.). Each public prosecutor usually deals with work within his specialisation.
Public prosecutors as well as lower personnel waiting for the function attend specialised seminars in the Academy of Justice.
Evaluation of public prosecutors should also secure an effective performance of tasks which the public prosecution deals with (in detail see Q 3 and 4).
A recodification of the Act on Public Prosecution is being prepared. The Bill enshrines a modern concept of public prosecution which is capable of:
· coping with new forms of crime (especially terrorism, cybernetic or in a broader aspect an informatic crime, serious economic, financial crime and tax crime, crime connected with corruption);
· protecting the society from crime;
· achieving socially beneficial goals in non-criminal matters where the public prosecution is replaceable only with difficulties or is not replaceable at all.
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.
Impartiality, independence and human and material resources are considered crucial criteria in order to secure high standard of quality and efficiency.
Public prosecution is an independent executive body from the constitutional point of view. However it is not independent in the same sense as the courts are (independence of public prosecution is of different kind than the judicial independence which is enshrined in the Constitution but in spite of this fact the independence is of an important value within the structure of public prosecution). Independence of the public prosecution is a necessary condition for its proper function. Public prosecution has to be independent from various political impacts and pressure which could influence its decision making process (especially while representing the public action in criminal procedure in court). This concept of public prosecution is common in all democratic countries.
An important aspect is also the independence of particular public prosecutors as persons who perform their statutory competences. Public prosecutor is one of the essential public servants who serves justice. Performance of the public prosecution tasks determines how the justice is served by courts. Any external interference which would endanger or violate the principle of independence and impartiality of public prosecutor poses a serious restriction of serving justice as well as an inadmissible violation of the rule of law. In this context we would like to refer to Art. 11 of the Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2000) 19 on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system which states that states should take appropriate measures to ensure that public prosecutors are able to perform their professional duties and responsibilities without unjustified interference or unjustified exposure to civil, penal or other liability. The independence of public prosecutors is connected to their impartiality.
Legal regulation generally states that a public prosecutor is obliged to fulfill responsibly his tasks and respect principles which the regulation provides (the public prosecutor is especially obliged to pursue his tasks conscientliously, responsibly, impartially, justly and without delays. Any interference or other impact which could result in violation of any of these principles must be denied).
Other essential statutory public prosecution principles, apart from the mentioned principle of impartiality and independence, are as follows:
- principle of legality – public prosecution has to act in accordance with the law
- principle of rapidity and professionalism (principle of efficiency) – public prosecution has to deal with its tasks thoroughly and rapidly using adequate methods which fit best in indvidual cases while respecting human rights and basic freedoms
Human and material resources: A new systemization has been staretd in 2013 which should secure a balanced distribution of public prosecutors to particular public prosecutor's offices according to their workload. This way a fair systemization has been achieved which is based on workload of each public prosecutors office and enables to distribute human resources (public prosecutors and administrative staff) justly.
Securing the performance of statutory tasks is also dependent on a qualified adiministrative staff.
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.
A formal quality and efficiency indicator of work of public prosecutors can be considered a system of regular evaluation which was introduced in the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office in January 2016. Gradually, this system should be introduced also in lower tiers of public prosecution. The Bill on public prosecution enshrines a regular and systematic evaluation of all public prosecutors (for details see Q 4).
Statistics which are being elaborated every year by the police, public prosecution and courts are also considered an efficiency indicator of public prosecution. The statistics are primarily not determined to this goal, on the other hand the statistics have an informative value reffering to an average length of criminal procedure, number of indictments, number of acquittals and cases returned to the public prosecutor for more inquiries etc. These indicators say very essential things about the quality of work which prosecutors do.
Another thing to mention is a Report on the activities of public prosecution for the past year. The Supreme public prosecutor submits this Report through the Minister of Justice to the Government till the half of each year. The duty to elaborate the Report is regulated in the Act on Public Prosecution. The Report is a document which describes essential results of the activities of the public prosecution in preceding year. The Reports focus inter alia on the current state and developments of crime, rapidity of the pre-trial procedure since the procedure has been initiated, activities of the public prosecution where the defendant is in a pre-trial detention, cases returned to public prosecutor for more inquiries, court aquittals and non-criminal competences of public prosecution.
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?
There has been no regular evaluation in the public prosecution structure so far. The Supreme Public Prosecutor decided on criteria of evaluation of public prosecutors as well as other staff working in the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office. The date of the first evaluation was set at 31st January 2016. Criteria for evaluation of public prosecutors of the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office are as follows: managerial skills, quality and productivity of work, proffesional knowledge and skills, linguistic skills, intelectual skills, cooperation with other subjects, broader work activities.
The evaluation is carried out by an immediate superior of a public prosecutor. The superior who carries out the evaluation makes the evaluated public prosecutor familiar with the evaluation without undue delay and gives him a copy on request. The evaluated public prosecutor writes his own opinion if he agrees with the evaluation or not. Eventually the evaluated public prosecutor can submit his own separate opinion. De lege ferenda, the Bill on public prosecution enshrines a regular evaluation of public prosecutors.
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?
In the structure of public prosecution there is a compulsory specialisation of public prosecutors in offences which do not time barr, crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism and organised crime (offences of participation in an organized group and crimes committed on behalf of an organized group). These specialisations are established at regional, high and the Supreme public prosecutor's office. Public prosecutors usually deal with crimes according to their specialisation.
Art 12 of the Council Decision 2002/187/JHA setting up Eurojust contains a possibility to appoint a national correspondent for particular matters. A national correspondent for terrorism is of a special value. In the Czech Republic this position was set up and is performed by a public prosecutor of the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office. National correspondents and their expert teams are guarantors of interdepartmental cooperation as well as international cooperation on their field of work. They analyse court decisions and research papers, carry out questionnaires, take part in educational activities (especially organized by the Academy of Justice), participate in departmental cooperation and meetings of specialists, participate in or suggest participation of someone else in specialised conferences.
In this context it can be mentioned that a fuction of national correspondent for corruption, money laundering, searches and confiscation of criminal assets was set up as well as national correspondent for financial crime and cybercrime, protection of interests of the EU and intellectual property rights.
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.
Currently, the Czech Republic fulfills all the legislative standards which it is obliged to comply with by the international commitments. However, there are fields where it is desirable to promote changes.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office carried out a working version of a regulation on rules of procedure of public prosecution which aims at terrorist threats from the part of the so called sleeper terrorist cells, lone wolves etc. as it has happened in France lately. The new version of the regulation authorizes the high prosecutor's offices only to deal with terrorist crimes.
In the context of enacting the new regulation of rules of procedure of public prosecution strengthening specialisation of public prosecutors on terrorist crime is assumed.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office carried out a material on readiness of public prosecution for terrorist threats in December 2015. On the base of this material following conclusions were drawn:
· legal regulation on the field of material criminal law is sufficient
· regulation of capital punishment is precluded
· there emerged a need to regulate various exceptions to the violation of human rights within the criminal procedure (prolongation of detaining a person as well as a time determined for a judge to decide on one's personal freedom, a possibility to carry out a house search as well as a search of other premises without a consent of a judge, a possibility to carry out electronic evidence without a consent of a judge). It will be necessary to regulate limits of these exceptions in order not to collide with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
· absence of the so called registrational protection of public prosecutors and their family members who deal with dangerous cases and their lives and health can be endangered.
Currently, the Government has discussed a document called „System of promulgation degrees of terrorism threats“. This document was discussed as a consequence of terrorist attacks in Paris in January and November 2015. By regulating these measures the Czech Republic will belong among the majority of EU member states which use the system of promulgation of degrees in relation to terrorism.
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?
The mentioned organisations as well as the international cooperation do work well and in an effective way in our opinion. We also appreciate the flexibility in transferring perpetrators using the European Arrest Warrant.
As for the Eurojust, we appreciate joint investigation teams as an important instrument of international cooperation. Public prosecutors regularly take part in seminars and meetings arranged by Eurojust focused on terrorism and other serious forms of organized crime.
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?
See also Q 6.
Another challenge is the requirement for approximation of criminal law within the EU on the field of fight against terrorism. The Czech Republic therefore welcomes proposal of a directive on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism because the Czech Republic agrees with the opinion of the Commission that because of the cross-border character of terrorist attacks it is necessary to unify criminal law in this field.
It is also necessary to focus on combatting the conventional terrorism as well as terrorism committed via internet.