Gomel hosts the third meeting of the Investigative Committee Panels from Armenia, Belarus, and Russia
The Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace in Gomel hosted the third joint meeting of Investigative Committee panels from Armenia, Belarus, and Russia. Among the attendants were the heads of the agencies—Agvan Hovsepyan, Ivan Noskevich, and Alexander Bastrykin. Belarusian Prosecutor General Alexander Konyuk, Head of Gomel Region Executive Committee Vladimir Dvornik, and Yuri Shuleiko, Belarus President’s Aide, also attended the event together with officers from the Investigative Committees of the three countries and other guests.
As Ivan Noskevich, the Chairman of The Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, opened the meeting, he expressed confidence that the event in Gomel was primarily of high practical value to all the attendants.
“Today’s meeting of the three panels is our next step towards improving investigative activities and a chance to hear different opinions about the prospects of development and cooperation between our agencies,” said Ivan Noskevich in his opening statement.
During the meeting, the attendants considered two major issues—optimization of the criminal procedure and practical cooperation between local investigative forces of the Russian Federation and those of the Republic of Belarus under the Convention on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal cases dated January 22, 1993 (as amended).
Avgan Hovsepyan, the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, and Sergey Azemsha, the Deputy Head of The Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus made reports on the first issue.
In his report, the head of the Armenian investigation agency dwelled on efficient management of preliminary investigations within the context of information society. Furthermore, he spoke about the changes in daily activities that are essential to keep pace the dynamically developing high-tech industry.
“The Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia has taken certain steps to improve preliminary investigation, including through digitizing criminal cases and developing the “Electronic Investigation” software. Introducing the information technologies that are widely used in today’s society is one of our priorities,” said Agvan Hovsepyan.
Sergey Azemsha shared the Belarusian experience in improving the preliminary investigation procedure. He also detailed amendments to the legislation proposed by The Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus and the prospects of developing the existing statutory framework. For instance, the Deputy Head of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus told about the results of using the plea bargain procedure introduced in the Republic of Belarus early in 2015.
“Over 2015-2017, there have been received 291 applications for plea bargains from persons involved in criminal cases,” reported Sergey Azemsha.
Furthermore, the Deputy Head of the Belarusian investigation agency covered the interrogation, confrontment, and lineup practices using a video conferencing system. The Deputy Head paid special attention to the committee’s legislative initiatives that are currently at the norm-setting stage. These include providing a legislative framework for using computer data as proving evidence, establishing video records as self-sufficient proving evidence, and improving the coroner’s jury establishment.
Oleg Mikhailov, the Head of the Department for international cooperation of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation covered the second issue. The Russian representative spoke about actual cooperation between local investigation agencies in Russia and Belarus.
“It deserves a special mention how well Investigative Committees from Russia and Belarus collaborated last year to administer a petition from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in Belarus. The petition requested to verify the testimony in the criminal case initiated by the Russian investigation agency in connection with the extremely serious crimes of an organized gang in Russia,” Oleg Mikhailov cited an example during his report.
Let us remind that the joint efforts of the Russian and Belarusian parties have helped to improve cooperation between competent agencies under Minsk Convention. Simultaneously, the cooperation in some cases is now ensured at the level of local forces.
The new algorithm for cooperation between the parties under the Convention was launched this January. By now, one can already point out certain positive results. In the first quarter of 2018, Administrations for Investigative Committees in regions and in the city of Minsk sent 135 requests, asking local investigative forces of the RF Investigative Committee for legal assistance in criminal cases.
Based on the ideas that the attendants exchanged on the agenda issues, the heads of the three agencies signed final documents.
“Undoubtedly, it is essential to work further towards introducing electronic criminal procedure, developing “digital” criminal investigation, and defining approaches to regulate legally new types of social relations. I hope that the proposals we heard will subsequently find their way into legislative initiatives and help to improve law enforcement practices in our countries,” said Ivan Noskevich, the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, summing up the meeting.
A Session of the Investigative Committee Panel: Initial Investigation Activities on Agenda
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