The Prosecution in Poland
Last year for the Polish Prosecution was a breakthrough. Statute of 9 October 2009 amending the Prosecution Act and some other statutes (Journal of Laws nr 178, position 1375), introduced from 31 march 2010, fundamental changes in the functional model of the Public Prosecution Service in Poland. The most important change was separation of function the Prosecutor General from the Ministry of Justice.
The new method of appointment of the Prosecutor General has been set up, according to which PG is being nominated by the President of the Republic of Poland from among two candidates presented by the National Prosecution Council and the National Council of the Judiciary, for a 6 years term.
Presenting of the candidates before the first nomination, was made by the National Council of the Judiciary, since at that time the National Prosecution Council was not fully operational yet. From 5 to 7 January 2010 public hearing of sixteen candidates took place. On 7 January 2010 members of the Council, in secret ballot, choose two candidates.
The President of the Republic of Poland in decision given on 5 March 2010 nominated for the post of the Prosecutor General, Mr. Andrzej Seremet, who started his work on 31 March 2010.
According to the article 1 subsection 1 of 20 June 1985 of Prosecution Act, Prosecution Service in Poland is composed of the Prosecutor General and prosecutors of common and military units and prosecutors of the Institute of National Remembrance and a Commission of Prosecuting Crimes against the Polish Nation.
In 2010, within the organisational frame of the Prosecution of the Republic of Poland, there were 11 Appellate Prosecution Offices, 45 Circle Prosecution Offices and 356 District Prosecution Offices.
Office structure of the Prosecution General of the Republic of Poland, beside providing the Prosecutor General for a merit and technical service, fulfils tasks of securing presence of the Prosecutors in the proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court and the Principal Administrative Court. Beside that Prosecutors of the Prosecution General exercise “higher-instance supervision tasks” over the preliminary proceedings led by the divisions for serious and organised crimes and corruption, located within the structure of the Appellate Prosecution Offices. It is at this level, that visitations, controls, as well as co-ordination of the supervision over preliminary proceedings in lower-level Prosecution Offices take place. Numerous activities of international legal assistance in criminal matters are also performed.
The Appellate Prosecutions are headed by the Chief Appellate Prosecutors (and her/his deputies). Primary tasks of the Appellate Prosecution Offices are to assure the presence of the Appellate Prosecutors in the trials in the Appellate Courts and Voivodships (i.e. Regional) Administrative Courts. Units of this level lead and supervise cases of serious organised crimes and corruption, exercise the powers of higher-instance supervision over proceedings led by the Circle Prosecution Offices as well as control-visitations thereto.
The Prosecutors of the Circle Prosecution Offices (with a Chief Circle Prosecutor with assistance of two of more deputies) take part in the proceedings before the Circle Courts. Territorially these units encompass few Districts. They are tasked with proceeding with the cases concerning the most aggravated criminal and economical cases. The Circle Prosecution Offices exercise direct official supervision over the proceedings pending in the lowest level of the service – in the District Prosecution Offices, alongside with periodical control visitations.
The lowest level of the Prosecution Service in Poland (governed by the Chief District Prosecutor and deputies) is composed of the District Prosecution Offices. They usually encompass a territory of a county or a larger city. As a first line, Prosecutors of the District Prosecutions, handle directly (inquiries and investigations) and supervise preliminary proceedings of other entitled organs (namely police). Prosecutors of the District Prosecution present suspects with charges, bring the written indictments into the courts and represent cases in the courts of first instance, mostly in the District Courts.
Additionally, it must be mentioned, that among the general tasks of the Prosecution in Poland is protecting law abidance, defined as participation in civil proceedings (lodging civil motions and complaints if a public interest or a protection of civic and human rights require an action). They also take actions in the labour and social security cases.
There is also the Prosecution in the Military Forces of the Republic of Poland, remaining under scrutiny and functional control of civil branch of the Prosecution, functioning at three levels: the Principal Military Prosecution Office located in Warsaw, two Circle Military Prosecution Offices with seats in Warsaw and Poznan and eleven Garrison Military Prosecution Offices in Bydgoszcz, Elblag, Gdynia, Krakow, Lublin, Olsztyn, Poznan, Szczecin, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Zielona Gora.
In the structures of the Institute of National Remembrance and a Commission of Prosecuting Crimes against the Polish Nation, Prosecutors perform their duties in the branches called: Main Commission of Prosecuting Crimes against the Polish Nation and local divisions thereof and in the Vetting Offices. The offices are located in the cities where Appellate Prosecutions and Courts have their offices, respectively.
From 31 March 2010 the National Prosecution was replaced by the Prosecution General, as comprehensive structure providing a service to the Prosecutor General and performing its statutory duties in criminal proceedings. The newly introduced statutory regulations, concern the terms of holding of tenures by chiefs and their deputies at all levels of the service.
The National Prosecution Council (NPC)
Aforementioned statute amending the 1985 Prosecution Act and some other statutes, created the National Prosecution Council (NPC) as a designated self-government organ, possessing wide range of prerogatives, primarily entrusted with responsibility of securing and protecting prosecutorial independence. The Council is composed of the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Justice, representative of the President of the Republic of Poland, four MPs, two senators, one elected Prosecutor representing the Military Prosecution, one elected Prosecutor representing the Institute of National Remembrance, three Prosecutors elected by the Prosecutors of the Prosecution General and eleven Prosecutors elected by local gatherings at appellate level.
Office, administrative and financial assistance to the Council has been provided by the structures of the Prosecution General. To have these duties carried out, the Prosecution General provided the Council for office space. Employees necessary for swift and efficient service to the Council have been designated by the Prosecutor General. Right after the completion of the election procedure, the NPC’s Members were invited by the Prosecutor General to take part in the inauguration meeting.
The NPC constituted on 21 September 2010. During first plenary meeting members of the Council elected a Chairman, two deputies and a secretary of the Council. Representative of the President of the Republic of Poland and Prosecutor of the National Prosecution (ret.) Mr. Edward Zalewski, was elected for a function of the Chairman. Mr. Mariusz Chudzik Prosecutor of the Appellate Prosecution in Rzeszów and Mr. Slawomir Posmyk Prosecutor of the Circle Prosecution in Lodz were entrusted with a post of the Deputies, while Mr. Piotr Wesołowski Prosecutor of the Appellate Prosecution in Gdansk and a Deputy Director of the Prosecutor’s General Office was elected as a Secretary of the Council.
In 2010 the NPC gathered six times, and gave out one hundred nine resolutions concerning personal cases of the Prosecutors. During a gathering on 5 October 2010, the Council adopted a Program Resolution and a resolution concerning the rules of procedure. It was also decided that the Council will create the permanent commission for adopting a draft professional rules of ethics and a permanent commission for consultation of legal acts concerning the Prosecution, orders and guidelines of the Prosecutor General. The NPC created also a commission for co-ordination and participation in legislative works of the Parliament concerning the draft of the National Prosecution Council Act and a team assessing personal motions of the prosecutors.