He noted that Ukraine currently employs approximately 14,000 public prosecutors. "On a per capita basis, this is an extraordinarily high number of prosecutors. For instance, for every 100,000 residents, the countries of France, Italy, Spain and Germany have between 3 and 6 prosecutors. In Ukraine, the most recent information reflects approximately 21 prosecutors for every 100,000 residents. I am aware of no reasonable justification for maintaining this imbalance," the official said.
Teff noted that when you combine a high number of prosecutors with low legitimate salaries, you create a ripe environment for corruption. Therefore, the ambassador believes, in reforming the procuracy, it would be wise to focus on assuring that all of Ukrainian prosecutors receive substantial salary increases to reduce the threats of corruption and abuse of power.
He also underlined that prosecutors are and must be vested with a tremendous power in a criminal justice system: the power to marshal the state’s resources to publically accuse a fellow citizen of committing a criminal act, accompanied with the power to have that person brought to trial and potentially deprived of his liberty.
"Unrestrained, that power threatens to not only destroy the individuals against whom it is directed, but also to tear apart the very fabric of a democratic society – to destroy the peoples’ trust in the rule of law. However, when prosecutorial power is exercised responsibly, with systemic checks and balances, the power is simply one very important part in the engine of a fair system of justice," Teff pointed out.
He reminded that despite Constitutional restrictions, Ukraine’s prosecutors continue to exercise “general supervision” powers. "This extraordinary power to perform supervisory functions outside of criminal proceeding has been the subject of Venice Commission criticism in the past. In order to meet your commitments to the Council of Europe and European values, this power ought to be eliminated in your reform efforts. General supervisory duties outside the criminal law are particularly dangerous in transitional democracies and emerging market economies. They are easily subject to political interference and when broad supervisory powers and particularly low salaries are combined they can form a dangerous mix. Elimination of general supervision will eliminate some corruption threats and improve your overall business climate," Teff opined.
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