Word from the President of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE)
Jana ZEZULOVA (Czech Republic) - President of the CCPE since January 2023
In accordance with the doctrine nemo iudex sine actore (“there is no judge without a petitioner”) ensuring fair and unbiased administration of justice, it is impossible to imagine an independent administration of justice without independent public prosecution, which brings criminal cases to court.
It is a great honour and privilege to have been elected as the President of the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) at the Plenary meeting which took place in October 2022. I am very appreciative of the great support and confidence expressed in me by the members of the CCPE. I am very pleased to be able to continue with the great work of my colleagues, the former Presidents of CCPE.
Public prosecution is an essential element in ensuring law, order and justice. On the one hand, it must create barriers to serious anti-social acts and, on the other, it must fearlessly step forward to protect vulnerable persons.
According to the “Rome Charter” (Opinion of CCPE No. 9 (2014)), public prosecutors act on behalf of society and in the public interest to respect and protect human rights and freedoms as laid down, in particular, in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.
The prosecution service, therefore, fulfils its position as a representative of the public interest by promoting the protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rule of law, in which the effective protection of the fundamental values of society is not merely proclaimed but implemented.
Quite aptly, the Explanatory Notes to the “Rome Charter” emphasise that the independence of public prosecutors is a supreme attribute of the rule of law and must be guaranteed at the highest possible level and in a similar manner to the independence of the judge.
The CCPE aims to bring the member States of the Council of Europe as close as possible to this goal.
What is on our agenda in 2023?
The CCPE decided that its future opinion in 2023 should focus on the Councils of Prosecutors as key bodies of prosecutorial self-governance, which addresses one of the key justice related priorities of the Strategic Framework of the Council of Europe.
This topic was also discussed at the European Conference of Prosecutors, organised under the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Palermo in May 2022, and it was concluded that the Councils of Prosecutors and/or other bodies dealing with prosecutorial self-governance can certainly contribute to ensuring the independence and proper functioning of public prosecutions.
The future Opinion will certainly take into account the diversity of legal and prosecutorial systems in Europe and could certainly serve as a reference tool for member States intending to introduce prosecutorial self-governance or to improve the existing system.
I believe that this Opinion will appropriately build on and complement the CCPE's already adopted opinions on the independence of public prosecution and public prosecutors, their autonomy and accountability.
Another challenge for the immediate future is the CCPE's proposal on the need to update Recommendation Rec(2000)19 on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system, particularly in the light of developments since 2000 in member States of the Council of Europe. There are several aspects of the work of the prosecution services in the Recommendation that could be reconsidered and updated, as justified by such developments. The proposal to revise this fundamental document for public prosecution was also one of the key conclusions of the European Conference of Prosecutors in Palermo in May 2022.
I look forward to working with you throughout 2023.