25th SEEPAG Conference on legal instruments and mechanisms which can simplify and accelerate the criminal procedure

Budapest/ Hungary, October 28 – 29, 2014

During the 25th SEEPAG Conference held in Budapest on 28 – 29 of October 2014 the SEEPAG Members and the representatives of partners met in order to discuss the “Legal instruments and mechanisms which can simplify and accelerate the criminal procedure”.

The meeting was opened by the SEEPAG Chairperson, Mrs. Eszter Maria Köpf and by Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, SELEC Director for Legal and Internal Affairs. Mr. Tibor Ibolya, the Chief Prosecutor of the Metropolitan Prosecution Service of Budapest, addressed the audience and presented the instruments provided by the Hungarian legislation for accelerating and/or simplifying the criminal procedure. Mr. Ibolya’s presentation focused on the oral arraignment, a procedure which proved to be very efficient and should be widely used. Mr. Ibolya also stated that the structure of the prosecution service was changed, as a new unit dealing with the cases where this procedure can be used was recently established.

Mrs. Maleeva welcomed the new participants and thanked the Hungarian Chairmanship for the excellent organization. She presented the latest developments in SELEC, namely that United States of America has become Operational Partner with SELEC, and that during the next Interpol General Assembly to be held at the beginning of November 2014, the Cooperation Agreement between SELEC and INTERPOL will be signed, by this INTERPOL becoming also the Operational Partner of SELEC.

With a view of enlarging the cooperation at prosecutorial level, SEEPAG continued inviting the representatives of its partners to its meetings, so that representatives from Kingdom of Belgium and Ukraine attended the 25th SEEPAG Conference and presented their legal systems and also the tools contained by their national legislation for simplifying the procedure in criminal investigations.

The representative of the Regional Cooperation Council mentioned the SEE 2020 Strategy and the 2014-2016 Strategy and Work Programme, and also the future activities and events planned by the RCC in the framework of these strategies.

Each of the SEEPAG Members presented the different instruments provided by their national legislation for accelerating and simplifying the criminal procedure, the institution of “plea bargaining” existing in the domestic laws of all the member states, being commonly used by practitioners, despite the inherent difficulties and having in view that the effective administration of justice and the right to a fair trial should be always balanced.

Besides the main topic, all the participants mentioned about the improvements that could be brought to the national legal framework in order to swift and simplify the proceedings, and also shared their views related to their cooperation with regard to the mutual legal assistance requests.

The General Guidelines of SEEPAG provide the yearly rotation of the Chairmanship by alphabetical order, therefore at this last meeting of SEEPAG in 2014, the Chairmanship was transferred to Republic of Moldova, following that Mrs. Olga Ionas, Prosecutor in the Department for International Legal Assistance and European Integration of the General Prosecutor’s Office, to be the SEEPAG Chairperson in the year 2015.

The next 26th SEEPAG Conference will focus on the practical aspects related to the drug trafficking investigations and is planned to be organized in Chisinau/Republic of Moldova, in the last week of April 2015.