Chief prosecutor Iva Geshev and vice-chief prosecutor Desislava Pironeva took part in the 16-th meeting of the Consultative Forum of Chief Prosecutors of the countries members of the European Union that happened in the time period 13-14th of October 2022 in the Hague, Netherlands.
The meeting agenda was focused around the criminal-legal consequences for European countries result of the military conflict in Ukraine. The proposal of the European Commission to amend the Regulation on the functioning of Eurojust in order to introduce the necessary provisions allowing for in-depth analysis and storage of collected evidence of war crimes committed in connection with the military conflict in Ukraine was also discussed in details.
All chief prosecutors agreed that as a part of the European family each country – member of the EU should make efforts in order to guarantee the security of society and the stability of its national legal system in the spirit of democratic values and the upholding of the rule of law.
This year’s meeting of the Consultative Forum was chaired by Olivier Christen, Head of the Department of Criminal Affairs and Pardons of France, and Igor Strizh, Prosecutor General of the Czech Republic. Mr. Strizh opened the meeting with a welcome speech, in which he emphasized that the chosen topic of the 16th meeting in a row is of extreme importance in both European and international terms, because it puts at risk of a serious violation of the legal order, basic human rights and humanity , inherent in democratic countries.
Chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev stated the willingness of the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office for an active cooperation with the country’s European partners in their actions connected to the current international situation and the challenges the judicial authorities are about to face because of it.
Olivier Christen emphasized on the need of cooperation among magistrates as a key element to protect the interests of European citizens. He called on his colleagues to initiate more war crimes investigations and coordinate with partner judicial institutions in Europe. The contribution of Eurojust to the implementation of effective investigations, analysis and storage of evidence resulting from the conducted national investigations was also reported.
The European Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, made a video addressed to the chief prosecutors, in which he thanked the European countries for the formation of joint teams to investigate crimes in Ukraine, together with the European Commission and the International Criminal Court. He also stated the readiness of the European Commission to provide the missing means to ensure the initiatives of the national and European bodies, aimed at supporting the Ukrainian state in providing solid evidence in court.
The President of Eurojust, Ladislav Hamran, expressed the readiness of the structure he leads to assist the European and associated countries with the help of the built-up database of evidence sent by the relevant national investigative and judicial authorities, in order to be able to investigate in depth all the circumstances and to make a reasonable conclusion about the essence of the crime and its perpetrator.
The Chief Prosecutor of Ukraine Andrii Kostin also participated in the meeting of the Consultative Forum. He thanked his colleagues for their dedication to assisting the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office. Mr. Kostin emphasized that their actions are aimed at establishing justice and humanity. He presented a report in which he stated that the number of war-related crimes was enormous. The role of the countries in Europe is important in terms of carrying out in-depth investigations, forming joint teams and building a stable coordination system between national judicial authorities for the needs of the exchange of experience and good practices.
From the Czech side, the discussion turned to ways to support international investigations and what activities Eurojust should undertake to assist EU Member States in investigating cross-border crime and cybercrime related to the war in Ukraine, as well as curbing and confiscating illicit financial assets.
In the context of the highly developed telecommunication and technological possibilities for the dissemination of information, there is a serious risk of an increase in cybercrimes aimed at spreading fake news about the war in Ukraine and propagating ideas contrary to European norms and values.
The Prosecutor Generals shared their practical experience, views and challenges facing their prosecutions in relation to the current EU restrictive measures against individuals and companies from Russia and Belarus.
Within the framework of the event, Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev discussed with his colleagues – the chief prosecutors of the EU member states and Ukraine, the upcoming conference “STOP HATE SPEECH”, organized by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria together with the European Jewish Association, which will be held at the beginning of December.
Hate crimes and discriminatory reasons will be discussed within the framework of the conference. The event will create a kind of platform for the chief prosecutors together with religious communities and non-governmental organizations to discuss the possibilities of protecting the rights of citizens.
The consultative forum of the chief prosecutors of the EU countries has been functioning since 2010 within the framework of the Eurojust – the European Union’s judicial cooperation unit, whose purpose is to coordinate investigations and prosecutions and cooperation between the competent authorities of the member states in relation to serious cross-border and /or organized crime.