History of investigating bodies
The history of the Belarusian investigation is owned to the existing system of law in the pre-revolutionary Russia and then in the Soviet Union.
A permanent investigative branch was established in the Russian Empire by Judicial statutes of 1864 and was in existence at the courts. In the first book of Judicial statutes “General establishment of judicial institutions” it is stated that “investigation of cases of crimes and offences” at the courts “is conducted by court investigators” who “are appointed by the Highest Authority of the Minister of Justice” on the basis of presentation “of the General Meeting of the Court with the participation of the Prosecutor”, and their dismissal depends “on the power that appointed them for the given position”.
It is crucial that, despite the fact that a preliminary investigation was entrusted to officials of courts since inauguration of positions of court investigators in 1864, they were actually derived from the administrative subordination of heads of courts they were attached to, as well as they were not under the control of prosecutors.
Prosecutors, in accordance with the Statute of the criminal proceedings, were charged with the supervision of the investigation. Herewith, prosecutors have received sufficiently broad supervisory powers over the investigation of judicial investigators of criminal cases; at the same time, prosecutors were deprived of the right to conduct a preliminary investigation. As it has been written in the given Statute, “Prosecutors and their comrades do not conduct preliminary investigation, but they only give suggestions about this to investigators and supervise constantly the conduction of investigations”.
Hereafter, during a passed away sesquicentennial history of its existence, the investigative branch has undergone a lot of organizational and structural rearrangements associated with changes in the social and political system and practical problems solved by them.
In particular, at the dawn of Soviet power, the Institute of investigators was abolished by the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR number 1 “On Court”.
Over time it made a comeback as national investigators at the courts and later positions of investigators at the courts were abolished and inaugurated in prosecution authorities, which also performed supervision of preliminary investigation legality of criminal cases, as well as in internal affairs bodies and state security authorities with their functions of operational and investigative activities to prevent, detect, deter crimes, detect and identify persons that are preparing, committing or having committed crimes.
The preliminary investigation in the Republic of Belarus was performed by investigators of the prosecutor’s office, internal affairs bodies, public safety authorities and financial investigations. All of them were included in the structure of the relevant departments.
Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus signed the Edict No. 409 “On establishment of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus” on September 12, 2011.
The establishment of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus initiated a radical reform of the Belarusian law-enforcement system. Decision on its establishment was taken on August 2, 2011 at the meeting on improvement of the system of preliminary investigation carried out under the supervision of the Head of State.
The formation of the Investigative Committee was preceded by a large-scale scientific and analytical work, study of foreign experience, evaluation of current situation in legal and political spheres. The investigative branch was excluded from the system of prosecution authorities, the division of the preliminary investigation – from the system of financial investigation bodies of the State Control Committee.
Main task set before the Investigative Committee is the improvement of quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the preliminary investigation. “Protection of people from criminal attacks – honorable and responsible mission. Any self-respecting state regards precisely this task as of paramount importance. The Investigative Committee was established as an independent authority for its optimal solution”, - said Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus, on June 14, 2013 during the ceremony for handling of the Banner of the Investigative Committee.
By the Presidential Edict of November 10, 2011 No. 518 “Issues of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus” the following was approved:
- Regulation on the central unit of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus;
- Regulation on the service in the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus;
- Disciplinary statute of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus;
- Text of the oath of the member of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus;
- Compliance list of special ranks of officers of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus to class ranks of officials of the prosecutor’s office, military ranks, special ranks of officers of internal affairs bodies, officers of financial investigation authorities of the State Control Committee of the Republic of Belarus.
A new investigative unit started functioning on January 1, 2012.
The Law of the Republic of Belarus of July 13, 2012 No. 403-3 “On the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus” has determined the legal and organizational basis of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, its main tasks and powers, as well as the powers and guarantees of legal and social protection of its officers.
The main objectives of the Investigative Committee include:
- comprehensive, complete, impartial and prompt investigation of offenses according to the investigative jurisdiction established by the criminal procedure legislation;
- protection of rights and legal interests of citizens, organizations, protection of state and public interests, observation of laws with the verification of statements and reports of crime, initiation of criminal cases, conduction of preliminary investigation;
- investigative work, practical application of science and technology, positive experience, progressive forms and methods of preliminary investigation;
- detection of violations of the law, causes and conditions of crimes, adoption of measures to address them;
- participation within its competence in the implementation of the state criminal policy, development of proposals for legal regulation improvement in law enforcement activity;
- implementation within its competence of international cooperation in the field of preliminary criminal proceedings.