Proceedings of the House of Representatives (source: ČT24)
MPs have on their agenda a second round of debate on a proposal to enforce the possibility of same-sex couples entering into marriage. In the morning, they approved the introduction of a seven-year term for the Supreme Prosecutor. Toughening penalties for rape also passed first reading in Lower House. Again, this should not be understood as forced sex.
Lawmakers can submit amendments to the Parliamentary Amendment to the Civil Code to establish same-sex marriage. Again there will be changes in the game, according to which the union of a same-sex couple is not directly called marriage, but partnership.
Opinions differ on what rights these couples should have. It is mainly about children's rights. The Constitutional-Legal Committee had previously not supported any such amendments and did not support the original form of the draft.
Thirty-five countries in the world now allow same-sex marriage across the country, fifteen of which are in the European Union. While other countries allow registered same-sex partnerships, the Czech Republic enacted it in July 2006. The gay, bisexual and transgender community considers registered partnerships insufficient.
The Attorney General has a term of seven years
On the proposal of Minister of Justice Pawel Plasek (ODS), the House of Representatives left the dismissal of the Chief Public Prosecutor exclusively within the power of the Cabinet, so he could not lose his position even in disciplinary proceedings. The draft, according to supporters, will help prevent possible political influence or pressure on the operations of the state attorney's office, which will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Logically, the draft also aims to make clear rules for the appointment and dismissal of senior advocates. Now the cabinet can remove a top lawyer without assigning any reason. The House of Representatives rejected an amendment by Helena Valkova and Radek Vondracek (both yes) that would have extended the newly established term of office of the Supreme Prosecutor from seven to nine years.
Delegates agreed to eliminate so-called dual supervision over the dismissal of the chief public prosecutor, i.e. by the government and disciplinary proceedings, because of the complications it could bring. For them, the competitive power of the Disciplinary Board may not be desirable. The government's amendment establishes requirements for the professional and administrative skills of the Chief Public Prosecutor and defines the grounds of appeal. Blasek presented a proposal that the Cabinet would not be obliged to remove the Attorney General from office, but would have the option to consider if either of these reasons occurred.
Other leading advocates will also be appointed for seven years as per the amendment. Selection procedures are phased in over several years to prevent all senior officials in public prosecutors' offices from entering the tenure of one government. Valkova failed with a proposal to postpone the implementation of the full amendment by half a year to January 1, 2025 and to extend this transitional period.
The government's anti-corruption initiative described the approved version of the restructuring draft as “solid and promising” as it provides safeguards against politicization of the prosecutor's office. “Our only criticism is that it would be more appropriate to establish a longer tenure for the chief prosecutor, for example nine years, not seven years,” the initiative said in a press release.
The Advocate General is appointed by the Government on the proposal of the Minister of Justice. The law currently does not specify more detailed requirements for the candidate. According to the amendment, a public prosecutor with a valid disciplinary action cannot become the head of the prosecution unless it is expunged. The draft also introduces requirements for professional knowledge, professional experience and moral qualities of lead prosecutors. Applicants must meet the required experience. According to parliamentary rules, the Senate will receive an annual report on the activities of the Prosecutor's Office after being discussed by the government.
The Chamber also supported the statutory strengthening of lawyer confidentiality. Lawyers already have a duty to keep confidential all facts they learn in connection with rendering legal services. Under the amendment, such information would be treated as expressly confidential. The Bill, which would allow paralegals to practice on a part-time basis, will now be debated by Parliament's Constitution and Law Committee.
In the opening round, the lower house also discussed the government's amendment, which would have referred to the delimitation of lay judges, who were earlier called judges, from the people. Doubts about the government's plan were mainly heard from MPs from the opposition movement. Under the proposal, associate judges will no longer jointly decide labor law disputes in the civil area and also serve on criminal panels of district courts. Reasons suggest that in these courts, cases are always conducted by a judge. The limitation of the element in the amendment also applies to certain criminal proceedings in regional courts.
MPs also proposed a government amendment to simplify the administration of humanitarian and charitable public collections. For example, non-cash collections through bank accounts should not be subject to draft checks. The amendment, which will come into effect from next year, is currently awaiting evaluation by the Budget Committee.