Supreme Court rejects EKRE prosecutor's office supervisory bill
The Supreme court opposes a bill which would make it the supervisory body, also responsible for disciplinary actions, over the Prosecutor's Office.
The bill, tabled by the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) earlier this month would, the Supreme Court says, cause a large number of legal and constitutional problems and would upset the balance and separation of powers.
In an opinion sent to the Ministry of Justice, the court wrote that: "Imposing on the Supreme Court the right and obligation to exercise both official supervision and disciplinary supervision over the activities of the Prosecutor's Office would be in conflict with the organizational structure of Estonia and would make the Prosecutor's Office directly dependent on the judiciary in its activities."
"Linking the prosecution to the judiciary, as proposed in the draft, would also jeopardize the independence of the prosecution, which is necessary for the prosecution to perform its tasks in a democratic state governed by the rule of law," the Supreme Court went on.
The Supreme Court says that official supervision of state agencies or government agencies is performed to ensure their legality and expediency, making it is essentially a management tool by which higher bodies carry out their will in internal relations to ensure obedience to subordinate bodies.
Such a set-up would adversely affect the Prosecutor's Office, however, the court says, as well as the Supreme Court itself.
"Due to such an effect, the supervision of the service would give the executive power an opportunity to influence the substantive decisions of the prosecutor's office, including in individual cases (it could become a 'political tool '," the Supreme Court noted.
While the Prosecutor's Office is organizationally linked to the Ministry of Justice, it is functionally separate from it, in the interests of independence, while the ministry's supervision is minimal, the Prosecutor's Office itself says.
EKRE tabled a bill at the Riigikogu to amend the Prosecutor's Office Act and the Courts Act on June 6, whose explanatory memorandum states that it aims to exclude just such a situation where the prosecutor's office could be a tool in initiating political criminal proceedings.
A secondary goal was to make the office accountable in the sense that there have been virtually no cases where prosecutors themselves have been prosecuted for violating the law, EKRE says.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte