Offenders to rely on court appointed lawyers

16 December 2019

Administrative proceedings are to become adversarial. According to Vedomosti, the presence of prosecutors and public defenders will be mandatory at court hearings. The Ministry of Justice plans to include these stipulations in the Code of Administrative Offences believing this will guarantee impartiality of the courts at administrative hearings. Earlier, the European Court of Human Rights highlighted the problem to the Russian authorities. How will this novelty impact the justice? And what do the profanities said by a lawyer from Tatarstan have to do with all this?

Everything started with an appeal by Mikhal Karelin from Tatarstan to the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Karelin was fined for appearing in public while intoxicated and swearing at passers-by. The defendant proved to be a lawyer himself, and he filed a competent appeal stating that in Russia the administrative courts act as prosecutors as well, Mr Karelin explained to Kommersant.

The European Court of Human Rights supported the applicant, while the Ministry of Justice agreed and proposed to invite prosecution to the administrative proceedings as well – represented by an official from the Prosecutor’s office or any other government authority, and to provide defendants with public lawyers the same way it is done in the criminal legislation.

Every year about 7 to 8 million administrative cases are brought to courts. It is very hard to imagine adversarial proceedings even for one half of these cases. The government authorities do not have enough official s for that, Roman Belanov from Khrenov & Partners insists. And moreover, the changes initiated by the Ministry of Justice are not needed – the prosecution already has to be a part of proceedings, but this requirement is just ignored. “There is no need for the legislation to be changed. For the government officials to come to courts, it is necessary to amend internal regulations. There will be a lot of insignificant cases, but that’s another story. If every case requires the presence of a government official, it may result in unnecessary workforce inflation”, Roman Belanov explains.

The full article may be viewed here (in Russian).

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