Czech Justice Minister Presents Draft Criminal Code, Invites Public to Comment
Friday, June 1, 2007 9:01 AM

The Civic Democrat Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil has presented the draft of a new penal code. For the next three months the text of the legislation will be available on the ministry's website for the public to read. Anyone with ideas is invited to mail their comment to the ministry which has promised to incorporate all justified comments in the new penal code.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil held a news conference which he said was a "historic moment" for Czech criminal law. For the first time, the Czech public has been given an opportunity to voice their comments on legislation before it has been discussed by either the government or Parliament.
"The main thing is that Czech citizens have a chance to comment on the draft before it is discussed by the Legislative Board of the Government, the cabinet itself and Parliament. At the moment the draft penal code is displayed on the Justice Ministry website and everybody who is interested can e-mail their comments to us. Our experts will process the submissions and our legislative team will decide whether the comments will be included. The most worthy recommendations will be discussed by the ministry's top officials."
Among other changes introduced in the new Criminal Code, the legislation stipulates tougher sentences for serious crimes. It raises the maximum sentence for the most serious of crimes from 15 to 20 years imprisonment, in exceptional cases to up to 30 years in prison. The age of criminal responsibility has been reduced from 15 to 14 years of age. The draft legislation also introduces house arrest as a type of alternative punishment and special detention for the perpetrators of sadist sexual crimes and especially aggressive offenders.
The draft Criminal Code will be available at the ministry's website until the end of August for anyone to view. The Justice Minister hopes this way the public will see the legislation more as "their own" rather than just laws imposed from above.
A new penal code was discussed by parliament last year but it did not make it through the lower house. Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil says he would now like to find broad agreement in Parliament and that is why articles regarding euthanasia -traditionally opposed by the Christian Democrats - have been left out. If it is approved by the government and Parliament, the new Criminal Code could come into force on the 1st of January, 2009.
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