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Belarus might decriminalize some offenses

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus will consider decriminalizing some offenses, Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Olga Chupris told the ONT TV channel on 19 January, BelTA has learned.

According to Olga Chupris, a possibility to decriminalize some criminal offenses will be studied by the Prosecutor General's Office. “As far as the Criminal Code is concerned, certain crimes should be transformed into administrative offenses. If the Prosecutor General's Office gives the go ahead, it will be good,” she said.

Olga Chupris noted that after introducing amendments to the Code on Administrative Offenses and the Procedural Law Code for Administrative Offenses, the same will be done with the Criminal Code.

The draft codes are to be finalized by 1 June. The Code on Administrative Offenses might have a separate chapter about the preventive function of the code. It will provide for measures of administrative and legal enforcement, however these measures will not be administrative penalties, they will have purely preventive purposes. These measures will be used for petty wrongdoings. Such measures provide for holding a 'preventive talk' to discourage a wrongdoer from committing a serious crime, or issuing him/her a verbal warning or a reprimand. If a wrongdoer commits the same offense again, he/she will bear an administrative responsibility.

Thus, law enforcement agencies will have more options regarding wrongdoers. They will be able to take into consideration a specific situation, a personality of a wrongdoer and his/her acknowledgement of wrongdoing, Olga Chupris said.

In line with Belarus President Instruction No.247rp as of 17 December 2019, a special expert commission was set up to work out amendments to the Code on Administrative Offenses. This commission is made of members of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor General's Office, the State Control Committee, the Justice Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Taxes and Duties Ministry and other government agencies, as well as MPs and scholars. Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Olga Chupris oversees the commission's work.

The commission is studying the feedback of government agencies and organizations that are authorized to issue fines and to process administrative offenses, as well as feedback from individuals and economic operators. People are also encouraged to contribute their views to the National Legal Information Center and the House of Representatives of the National Assembly till 24 January.

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted a meeting on 16 December to discuss the application of administrative measures. The president stressed that everyone should clearly understand that the main criterion of work is not the number of violations and fines issued, but the preventive impact and real reduction in the number of administrative offenses.