Bratislava, December 6 (TASR) - The government at its session on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Criminal Code scrapping the Special Prosecutor's Office (USP).
In line with the amendment, cases coming within the purview of the Special Prosecutor's Office should be transferred to regional prosecutor's offices.
The government at the same time greenlighted fast-track proceedings for the amendment in Parliament.
The government argued that the aim is to eliminate inconsistencies in the prosecution system, pointing to the opinion of experts evaluating procedures in practice. "Expert knowledge from previous activities of the Special Prosecutor's Office suggests that the current arrangement of the Prosecutor-General's Office of the Slovak Republic with a special component, which is USP, is not ideal and inevitably requires structural changes," the Justice Ministry emphasised in the approved materials.
According to the ministry, the aim of the bill is to find a compromise between conflicting views on the existence of the Special Prosecutor's Office and to adopt a legal regulation that will not only increase the efficiency of the prosecution service as a whole, the independence of prosecution from political influences and respect for the rule of law, "but will also withstand a change of government".
While cases should be transferred to regional prosecutor's offices, the Prosecutor-General's Office should supervise them. "Regional prosecutor's offices have sufficient, impartial and professionally proficient prosecutors," stressed the Justice Ministry.
The draft amendment to the Criminal Code also expands the options for more individual punishments with the aim of improving the conditions for imposing appropriate sentences by courts in individual cases, "taking into account in particular the circumstances of the offence committed, the offender and their background, in particular by introducing a sufficient range of lower and upper limits on prison sentences and by strengthening the possibility of imposing alternative punishments".
At the same time, fines and house arrest should become more frequent forms of punishment, as the amendment also addresses the fact that the country's prisons are overcrowded along with claims that imprisonment doesn't lead to effective rehabilitation and doesn't discourage repeat offending.