Ethics and Integrity Commission

Ethics and Integrity Commission

Composition of the Commission

With the amendment to the State Prosecutor Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 19/2015 of 20 March 2015, hereinafter referred to as the SPA-1), the State Prosecutor's Council acquired new authorities in the field of state prosecutorial ethics and integrity. The Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors is adopted according to the 17th indent of the first paragraph of Article 102 and Article 38a of SPA-1. The Ethics And Integrity Commission is appointed according to the 18th indent of the first paragraph of Article 102 and Article 108a of SPA-1.

The State Prosecutor's Council adopted the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors on 22 September 2015. At the 50th regular meeting on 16 September 2015, the Council appointed three members to the Ethics And Integrity Commission.

The following state prosecutors were appointed to the Ethics And Integrity Commission for a period of six years, from the 16 September 2015 to 15 September 2021:

  • Mateja Jadrič Zajec, Spec., District State Prosecutor – Counsellor at the Specialised State Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Slovenia,
  • Primož Suknaič, District State Prosecutor – Counsellor at the District State Prosecutor's Office in Ljubljana, a member of the State Prosecutor's Council, and
  • Saška Žontar, District State Prosecutor – Counsellor at the District State Prosecutor's Office in Maribor.

A constitutive session of the Ethics and Integrity Commission was carried out on 23 October 2015, at which the members appointed from those present:

  • for the Chair of the Commission, Higher State Prosecutor – CounsellorMateja Jadrič Zajec, Spec.,
  • for the Deputy Chair of the Commission, District State Prosecutor – Counsellor Primož Suknaič.

Tasks of the Commission

According to Article 108a of SPA-1, the Ethics and Integrity Commission:

  • adopts principled opinions on conduct which constitutes a violation of the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors,
  • issues recommendations on compliance with the rules of ethics and integrity of state prosecutors in accordance with the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors,
  • adopts guidelines in the field of ethics and integrity of state prosecutors in accordance with the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors, and
  • in collaboration with the Centre for Judicial Training, it is responsible for the education and training of state prosecutors in the field of ethics and integrity of state prosecutors.

Operation of the Commission

The Ethics and Integrity Commission is a body within the State Prosecutor's Council (paragraph 1 of Article 108a of SPA-1). Only state prosecutors may be appointed to the Commission (paragraph 2 of Article 108a of SPA-1).

The Ethics and Integrity Commission operates at the headquarters of the State Prosecutor's Council, with the following contact information:

 

Expressing the opinion of a state prosecutor

On the basis of Article 108a of the State Prosecutor Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 58/2011, with amendments; hereinafter referred to as the SPA-1) and Article 23a of the Rules of Procedure of the Public Prosecutor's Council (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 106/2011, with amendments; hereinafter: Rules of Procedure), in the process of dealing with a complaint against the conduct of a state prosecutor, the Ethics and Integrity Commission at the 3rd meeting on 18 March 2016 adopted the following

p r i n c i p l e d   o p i n i o n:

The conduct of a state prosecutor who, in the process of interrogating a witness, expresses their opinion about a procurement process, and not about an individual person, is not contrary to the principles of the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors;

And

r e c o m m e n d a t i o n:

In order to protect their own reputation and the reputation of the state prosecutor's office, it is recommended that state prosecutors exercise restraint in expressing their opinions at work and outside work.

E x p l a n a t i o n:

A complaint was received by the Ethics and Integrity Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission), from a person who appeared as a witness in a criminal investigation, concerning an opinion expressed by a state prosecutor. In the complaint in question, the person submitting the complaint argues that the state prosecutor’s conduct insulted and passed judgement on the person's professional work. Such statements undermine the integrity of the state prosecutor's profession and violate the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors.

The Commission dealt with the complaint in question and in this respect obtained the relevant documentation and written presentation of the point of view of the state prosecutor concerned.

The documents examined and the written presentation of the point of view show that the opinion of the state prosecutor in a particular case was expressed in the plural, and that the state prosecutor did not intend to degrade anyone, and that no value judgement was delivered against anyone. The expressed opinion related to a procurement procedure, not personally to the person submitting the complaint, and the whole issue was merely an emotional response to external reactions, statements and actions with respect to which neither the judge nor lawyers intervened.

As officials, state prosecutors are otherwise reasonably expected in society to be cautious in their statements, maintain a dignified personal appearance and behaviour in public places, and at work and outside work behave in a way that does not damage their own reputation or the reputation of the state prosecutor's office.

According to the Commission, the conduct of the state prosecutor who was the subject of the assessment in the case in question and did not intend to offend or degrade anyone, is not contrary to the principles of the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors. The use of different interrogation tactics, which may sometimes seem provocative, is not ethically controversial, providing the state prosecutor takes into account the principles of the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors. The Commission estimates that if it is allowed for parties (witnesses, clients, accused, supporters, etc.) who are unsatisfied with hearings, the mode of hearings, positions, etc. or with the fact that they find themselves involved in criminal proceedings, can directly influence the work of the state prosecutor's office by means of complaints, as in the case in question, and thereby try to stop or "discipline" the state prosecutor, this would have a negative effect on the work of state prosecutors in the future, because state prosecutors may be significantly less active in their work and would actually be fearful of being penalised because of their work.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commission recommends that state prosecutors exercise restraint in expressing their opinions at work and outside work, in order to protect their reputation and the reputation of the state prosecutor's office. State prosecutors must be aware that everything they say or do at work and outside work is closely scrutinised and assessed. In order to maintain the reputation of, and trust in, the institution of the state prosecutor's office, a certain degree of restraint and caution from state prosecutors is therefore necessary.

 

Recommendations on conflicts of interest

At its meeting on 25 May 2016, the Ethics and Integrity Commission adopted the following

RECOMMENDATIONS

about conflicts of interest for state prosecutors regarding conduct that is expected from them outside the state prosecutor's office and for cases when prosecutors join the private sector

  1. in order to ensure the appearance of impartiality, it is recommended that state prosecutors do not represent the interests of other persons as their representatives, regardless of kinship or acquaintance, with the exception of persons whom they are obliged to support or of whom they are guardians or legal representatives;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors take into account the public's perception of circumstances that might cause doubt about their objective impartiality, and are recommended during working hours and outside working hours to avoid any moral and ethical dilemmas that cause or could cause doubts among the public as to their impartiality/objectivity (free services, free tickets, exclusive discounts, services without invoices, etc.);
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors resolve all moral and ethical dilemmas that may arise at work or outside work in favour of the impartiality/objectivity of their conduct;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors beware of potential pressure/threats from persons dealt with or persons associated with them, including pressure from people who support a certain political option/journalists; in such cases, they should notify the head of the state prosecutor's office in writing;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors be wary in cases when lawyers show a greater interest in communicating with them in order to obtain information on proceedings to improve their clients position when this is not related to negotiations on a guilty plea;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors be especially cautious within the institution of the state prosecutor's office during procedures that might cause doubt as to their objectivity and impartiality or might allow the influence of the private interests of individuals who participate in these proceedings;
  1. it is recommended that if state prosecutors are allocated a case regarding which they assess that, due to their acquaintance with a person involved (a neighbour, former classmate, former colleague, etc.) their impartiality could be called into question, they send a notice in writing to the head;
  1. state prosecutors are recommended not to publically express their support for candidates for political offices;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors use social networks with restraint, so that the reputation of the state prosecutor's position is respected and that there is no doubt as to their impartiality;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors exercise restraint when they publically express their views on cases regarding which judgement is not final;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors exercise restraint in expressing their opinions at work and outside work, in order to protect their reputation and the reputation of the state prosecutor's office.
  1. given that state prosecutors are expected to act with a high level of ethics and integrity, they are recommended both during working hours and leisure time to act with a high degree of integrity/ethics/morality;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors monitor the publication of their statements in the media, and if a statement is not accurately reported, notify the head in writing;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors heed any warnings from other persons about a situation related to them that might be morally/ethically controversial, and they are recommended to critically review the situation;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors who intend to leave the state prosecutor's office do not exploit inside information or acquaintances in their future work after they leave the state prosecutor’s office;
  1. it is recommended that in contacts with former state prosecutors, representatives and advocates, state prosecutors are careful not to communicate inside information for which such persons are not authorised;
  1. it is recommended that, in the event of being invited to actively participate in training organised by a private provider, state prosecutors should consider what kind of training is involved, who the organiser is, whether their participation is financially compensated or pro bono, whether it would benefit the state prosecutorial institution as a whole, and assess the level of risk regarding the appearance of impartiality and report this in writing to the head;
  1. regarding the acceptance of work they intend to carry out in addition to their duties as a state prosecutor, it is recommended that, due to potential incompatibility with the function of a state prosecutor, state prosecutors send a written notification to the head of the state prosecutor's office in advance (eg. interpreting, journalistic work, voluntary work in cultural and sports clubs and associations, etc.);

Explanation:

The Ethics and Integrity Commission has prepared respective recommendations regarding conflicts of interest for state prosecutors concerning the conduct expected from them outside the state prosecutor's office and for cases when prosecutors join the private sector, according to the recommendations of GRECO and according to the current Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors, which was adopted by the State Prosecutor's Council on 22 September 2015. The respective recommendations express the actions recommended to state prosecutors at work and outside work to maintain a high level of integrity, ethics and morals. Through the respective recommendations, it is recommended that state prosecutors avoid situations that could raise doubts about their impartiality and objectivity at work and outside their work, and it is also recommended  that be cautious and always act according to the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors and respective recommendations when participating in proceedings that could raise doubt about their objectivity or impartiality (with respect to the state prosecutor as an individual and the institution of the state prosecutor's office). These recommendations also refer to the actions of state prosecutors when they join the private sector. However, such actions cannot be sanctioned, since these recommendations are intended for former state prosecutors. Nevertheless, they also raise the awareness of state prosecutors regarding what is expected from them once they leave their posts (moral commitment). The recommendations may discourage those who might seek to exploit their connections and also active state prosecutors who understand that such behaviour is inappropriate and must be avoided. The recommendations also provide certain guidelines for state prosecutors on how to act in cases when a task is appointed to them regarding which legal reasons for excluding them have not been filed, but the state prosecutor knows the clients.

The respective recommendations are intended to build the public reputation of the state prosecutor's function, while they also resolve certain dilemmas related to internal organisation.

 

Public Information Catalogue

At its meeting on 25 May 2016, the Ethics and Integrity Commission adopted the following

RECOMMENDATIONS

about conflicts of interest for state prosecutors regarding conduct that is expected from them outside the state prosecutor's office and for cases when prosecutors join the private sector

  1. in order to ensure the appearance of impartiality, it is recommended that state prosecutors do not represent the interests of other persons as their representatives, regardless of kinship or acquaintance, with the exception of persons whom they are obliged to support or of whom they are guardians or legal representatives;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors take into account the public's perception of circumstances that might cause doubt about their objective impartiality, and are recommended during working hours and outside working hours to avoid any moral and ethical dilemmas that cause or could cause doubts among the public as to their impartiality/objectivity (free services, free tickets, exclusive discounts, services without invoices, etc.);
  1. It is recommended that state prosecutors resolve all moral and ethical dilemmas that may arise at work or outside work in favour of the impartiality/objectivity of their conduct;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors beware of potential pressure/threats from persons dealt with or persons associated with them, including pressure from people who support a certain political option/journalists; in such cases, they should notify the head of the state prosecutor's office in writing;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors be wary in cases when lawyers show a greater interest in communicating with them in order to obtain information on proceedings to improve their clients position when this is not related to negotiations on a guilty plea;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors be especially cautious within the institution of the state prosecutor's office during procedures that might cause doubt as to their objectivity and impartiality or might allow the influence of the private interests of individuals who participate in these proceedings;
  1. it is recommended that if state prosecutors are allocated a case regarding which they assess that, due to their acquaintance with a person involved (a neighbour, former classmate, former colleague, etc.) their impartiality could be called into question, they send a notice in writing to the head;
  1. state prosecutors are recommended not to publically express their support for candidates for political offices;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors use social networks with restraint, so that the reputation of the state prosecutor's position is respected and that there is no doubt as to their impartiality;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors exercise restraint when they publically express their views on cases regarding which judgement is not final;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors exercise restraint in expressing their opinions at work and outside work, in order to protect their reputation and the reputation of the state prosecutor's office.
  1. given that state prosecutors are expected to act with a high level of ethics and integrity, they are recommended both during working hours and leisure time to act with a high degree of integrity/ethics/morality;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors monitor the publication of their statements in the media, and if a statement is not accurately reported, notify the head in writing;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors heed any warnings from other persons about a situation related to them that might be morally/ethically controversial, and they are recommended to critically review the situation;
  1. it is recommended that state prosecutors who intend to leave the state prosecutor's office do not exploit inside information or acquaintances in their future work after they leave the state prosecutor’s office;
  1. it is recommended that in contacts with former state prosecutors, representatives and advocates, state prosecutors are careful not to communicate inside information for which such persons are not authorised;
  1. it is recommended that, in the event of being invited to actively participate in training organised by a private provider, state prosecutors should consider what kind of training is involved, who the organiser is, whether their participation is financially compensated or pro bono, whether it would benefit the state prosecutorial institution as a whole, and assess the level of risk regarding the appearance of impartiality and report this in writing to the head;
  1. regarding the acceptance of work they intend to carry out in addition to their duties as a state prosecutor, it is recommended that, due to potential incompatibility with the function of a state prosecutor, state prosecutors send a written notification to the head of the state prosecutor's office in advance (eg. interpreting, journalistic work, voluntary work in cultural and sports clubs and associations, etc.);

Explanation:

The Ethics and Integrity Commission has prepared respective recommendations regarding conflicts of interest for state prosecutors concerning the conduct expected from them outside the state prosecutor's office and for cases when prosecutors join the private sector, according to the recommendations of GRECO and according to the current Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors, which was adopted by the State Prosecutor's Council on 22 September 2015. The respective recommendations express the actions recommended to state prosecutors at work and outside work to maintain a high level of integrity, ethics and morals. Through the respective recommendations, it is recommended that state prosecutors avoid situations that could raise doubts about their impartiality and objectivity at work and outside their work, and it is also recommended  that be cautious and always act according to the Code of Ethics of State Prosecutors and respective recommendations when participating in proceedings that could raise doubt about their objectivity or impartiality (with respect to the state prosecutor as an individual and the institution of the state prosecutor's office). These recommendations also refer to the actions of state prosecutors when they join the private sector. However, such actions cannot be sanctioned, since these recommendations are intended for former state prosecutors. Nevertheless, they also raise the awareness of state prosecutors regarding what is expected from them once they leave their posts (moral commitment). The recommendations may discourage those who might seek to exploit their connections and also active state prosecutors who understand that such behaviour is inappropriate and must be avoided. The recommendations also provide certain guidelines for state prosecutors on how to act in cases when a task is appointed to them regarding which legal reasons for excluding them have not been filed, but the state prosecutor knows the clients.

The respective recommendations are intended to build the public reputation of the state prosecutor's function, while they also resolve certain dilemmas related to internal organisation.