On Wednesday, 2 September, during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers the informative report prepared by the Ministry of Justice was approved regarding the impact of amendments made to the Criminal Procedure Law in 2018 on the simplification and efficiency of the criminal proceedings. The above-mentioned amendments were adopted on 20 June 2018 and came into force on 1 September 2018.
Jānis Bordāns, Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice: “Our purpose is to terminate long and endless investigations and court proceedings. When assessing the impact of amendments made in 2018, the key conclusion is that there are still investigators, prosecutors and also judges, who failed to use all possibilities provided by law during the last year, in order to be able to make the criminal proceedings as much effective and fast as possible. Few mutually conflicting assessments from courts show that one and the same tools are used in practice with different results. We conclude from that that reprimands about the long investigation and court proceedings is not only the issue about changes in law, but rather than change in the practice of application. I am confident that both, the new Chairman of the Supreme Court as well as the new Prosecutor General, will help to change that.”
When analysing the impact of amendments to the duration of trial of cases, the issue about the quality of accusations has been raised once again. Namely, judges cannot examine cases in accordance with the procedure of the accelerated proceeding without examination of evidences, if the public prosecutor brings an action, upon the assessment of which a judge has doubts regarding the factual circumstances of commitment or qualification of the criminal offence. Therefore, it is necessary to review the current practice of application, providing regular training, in order to facilitate a common understanding on the application of legal norms among investigators, public prosecutors and judges, emphasizes the Minister of Justice.
In order to facilitate a common understanding between judges, public prosecutors and investigators, the Ministry of Justice has planned a number of trainings during the next year, including in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States of America. That will be only one of the steps, in order to achieve faster and more efficient work of courts.
Opinions collected in the informative report will be used for continued work on the efficiency of the criminal proceedings. Since 24 January 2019, when Jānis Bordāns (JKP) started to perform the duties of the Minister of Justice, the Ministry of Justice has prepared 12 draft laws with amendments to the Criminal Law or Criminal Procedure Law. 5 draft laws out of them have already come into force, still 6 draft laws are currently reviewed by commissions of the Saeima, but one draft law has been announced during the meeting of the State Secretaries.
J.Bordāns: “The impact of all these amendments on faster and more fair proceedings we will see during the next two years, but the positive consequences of few amendments could be noticed already immediately after coming into force thereof. For example, on 6 July amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law came into force, giving a possibility for a court to discharge such an unacceptable person as Rudolf Meroni from the status of a custodian of the arrested property of Lembergs.”
When analysing the opinions of the law enforcement authorities about the impact of amendments made in 2018, the Ministry of Justice has concluded that in general amendments were assessed as effective and useful from the part of investigation authorities and prosecutor’s office. It was considered that the work of an investigator was made less bureaucratic by the amendments. Besides, also the majority of representatives of courts assess the amendments, including introduction of the accelerated proceeding, positively, because it is possible to rapidly and effectively examine simple proceedings, thus completing both, the pretrial as well as court investigation proceedings within a short period of time. At the same time some courts have indicated in the survey that this accelerated proceeding does not have any obvious advantages or they are not appropriate for the circumstances of the particular court.
Amendments to the CPL were adopted on 20 June 2018 and came into force on 1 September 2018 with a purpose to provide simplification of investigation of the criminal proceeding, investigation proportional with severity of the criminal offence, as well as revision of provisions of suspension and termination of the criminal proceeding. In order to prepare a report on further solutions, in accordance with the action plan of the government, the work group lead by the Ministry of Justice for development of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law analysed the assessments submitted by law enforcement authorities regarding the fact, how the norms of the CPL work in practice.