Kazakhstan simplifies judicial procedures
An order procedure has been introduced to simplify the lawsuit and make it more cost-effective. The procedure provides judicial consideration of offences for up to three days and is applied when the suspect pleads guilty, the core punishment provides a fine, and the parties agree to the trial without their summons to the court. Pre-trial proceedings shall not exceed five days in such cases.
The order procedure has limitations. It is not applied if a perpetrator has mental health issues, or if an offence was committed by a minor, or when additional penalties can be imposed, for example, confiscation of property, deprivation of title, prohibition of engaging in specific activities, expulsion from the state.
In September, the chair of the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan Abai Rakhmetulin, explaining the need to eliminate excessive procedural rules, cited the following statistics: there were 10,549 cases of criminal offences in the production of the courts of the republic in the first half of the year, which is more than one-third of all criminal cases. At the same time, every 12th case was considered at three or more hearings, each of which lasted on average from half an hour up to an hour and a half. Also, according to him, the share of cases considered in many countries in the ordinary, rather than simplified, production is very small, for example, in America, it is only 5%.
Besides, the new version of the code has reduced a term of detention of suspects without a sanction of the court from 72 to 48 hours. Minors can no longer be detained for more than 24 hours. If the court does not authorise detention for the specified time, the person shall be released.
Exceptions are cases where the law expressly states that a person can be detained for 72 hours (but no more). In particular, it is possible if the detainee is suspected of a particularly serious, extremist, terrorist or drug-related crime or participation in a criminal group.
Only a sanction of the court allows detaining and placing under house arrest. At the same time, a detainee shall have a right to appeal against such a decision. Further, a forceful medical or psychiatric examination of individuals who are not under arrest is allowed only by permission of the court.
The Prosecutor General's Office initiated the amendments to the criminal legislation after President Nursultan Nazarbayev had criticised its activity. He condemned the malpractice, when criminal proceedings based on one fact, and finding no evidence, begin "digging up everywhere".
Now, the investigative bodies have the right to collect evidence on criminal offences when a pre-trial investigation has been launched. Also, the updated code deprives the prosecutor's office of the right to conduct unsolicited investigative actions (wiretapping, video surveillance) without court authorisation.