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The role of public prosecutors in emergency situations

Strasbourg 23 March 2021
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The role of public prosecutors in emergency situations

The CCPE adopted in November 2020 its Opinion No. 15 (2020) on the role of prosecutors in emergency situations, in particular when facing a pandemic, highlighting the implementation of their usual but also new or extended functions in emergency situations, and how to overcome any challenges in such situations. The Opinion focuses on the fulfilment of the mission of the prosecution services keeping the highest standards of quality and efficiency. It underlines in particular the need for prosecutors to ensure that, in the course of their work, the measures taken under a public health emergency are used to protect people, and that new legal measures are applied with strict respect for human rights obligations. The restrictions introduced as a result of the pandemic may affect civil and political rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as economic, social and cultural rights, entailing discrimination against certain vulnerable groups. That is why it is all the more important for prosecutors to continue ensuring respect for the ECHR in member States during a pandemic, as well as its aftermath.

The Opinion also emphasises the use of modern technologies by prosecutors in the course of their work and highlights identifying priority cases, managing procedural deadlines, developing co-operation mechanisms and procedures, including at international level, supervising investigations, using alternatives to pre-trial detention, managing the situations of persons in quarantine or detention, dealing with specific crimes and ensuring that vulnerable groups or individuals are protected. The Opinion provides concrete examples of practices in the Council of Europe member States and sets out a number of recommendations.

 Opinion Nr 15 (2020) - Languages available: ENG, FRA, POL, RO