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19 April 2022, 17:15

Belarus' prosecutor general concerned about negative phenomena behind overall positive picture

Andrei Shved
Andrei Shved

MINSK, 19 April (BelTA) – An overall stable societal and political situation, law and order have been secured in Belarus. However, there are a number of negative phenomena behind the overall positive picture. Prosecutor General of Belarus Andrei Shved made the statement at the government conference hosted by the head of state on 19 April to discuss the enforcement of law and order, BelTA has learned.

According to Andrei Shved, coordinated efforts of law enforcement agencies have allowed securing a positive trend in favor of reduction of the crime rate. However, a number of negative phenomena hide behind the overall positive picture.

During the government conference hosted by the head of state the prosecutor general outlined the most important problems and the most worrying trends that need a response.

Counteraction of extremism

Andrei Shved pointed out the low solving rate of extremism crimes. It encourages those, who avoid prosecution, to continue further criminal activities and radicalize their criminal intentions. “Since only half of such crimes are solved, we cannot be self-complacent. It is particularly worrying that not all the persons guilty of inflicting bodily harm upon police personnel, of staging acts of sabotage against transport infrastructure, of setting buildings on fire, and other daring crimes have been identified.”

The problem of fighting extremism-related crimes in the Internet is as pronounced, Andrei Shved believes. Destructive online activities represent a serious threat in modern conditions, he noted. However, the percentage of solved crimes of this kind is even lower. This is why prosecutors of all levels check the effectiveness of police work and the work of investigators in this regard every month. “Regretfully, we often come across red-tape practices and, which is more worrying, inaction. Nearly 1,000 illegal decisions to refuse to start a criminal investigation, suspend and terminate an investigation have been rescinded. In dozens of cases people guilty of extremism crimes have been prosecuted thanks to interference of the prosecution service,” the prosecutor general mentioned.

He drew attention to a rising probability of acts of sabotage and acts of terrorism against transport infrastructure. It is necessary to substantially revise approaches to investigating extremism-related crimes, he noted.

Fight against drugs trafficking

The Office of the Prosecutor General is particularly concerned about negative trends in the fight against drugs trafficking. “In 2014 the head of state gave instructions to deliver a serious blow to drug-related crimes. And the detection rate of such crimes went up. But work in this area became inert in the last few years. As a result, in 2021 the number of detected [drug-related] crimes dropped by a third in comparison with 2014,” Andrei Shved said.

In his words, the amount of psychotropic substances seized by police has increased by 1.5 times since 2014. The amount of psychotropic drugs seized by police has increased by 4.5 times. The number of people, who died due to overdosing, has increased by several times. 2021 saw 140 people die due to overdosing, which is nearly three times as much as in 2019 and 2014.

More underage Belarusians are getting involved in drugs trafficking. As many as 111 teenagers committed drug-related crimes in 2021 or twice as many as in 2019. The figure is expected to grow.

Meanwhile, the percentage of solved drugs trafficking crimes has not changed substantially: 42% of such crimes were solved in 2014 and half at most were solved in 2021.

Andrei Shved stressed it is necessary to fight the channels used to smuggle drugs into Belarus instead of inflating statistics by catching ordinary drug dealers. The unsatisfactory performance of the Internal Affairs Ministry in this field is caused by the ministry's focus on the number of detected crimes and the number can be easily inflated by catching a larger number of regular drug runners, the prosecutor general said.

“In our opinion, the performance of police and other interested agencies does not live up to the scale of the problem. We see what looks like self-complacence. We are actually returning to the situation we had in 2014. This is why it is necessary to rapidly change approaches to fighting drugs trafficking,” he stated.

Fight against slothfulness

The prosecutor general said: “The head of state has repeatedly stressed that a person without a job is not simply yet another street protester but a potential criminal.” According to last year's statistics, more than half of the 43,000 criminals caught in 2021 were people who do not work and do not study.

The Office of the Prosecutor General criticized the work municipal authorities and law enforcement agencies do to help unemployed Belarusians find jobs. Their efforts are reduced to encouraging people to find a job on their own. Their lack of effort is having a negative effect on recidivism since about 40% of all crimes are committed by ex-convicts.

Execution of court rulings

“We can perfect the legislation and the court system to our heart's content but justice will not triumph if court rulings are not executed,” the prosecutor general stated.

He reminded that a court ruling enforcement service had been created to set things straight in this area. Yet the percentage of collection has not changed substantially and still remains below 10%. The reparation of damages to the state in line with writs of execution is only 3.6%. “While criminals may owe over Br300 million to the state budget, about Br11 million has been collected from them. The state cannot afford forgiving such debts in today's complicated conditions,” the prosecutor general stressed.

Loss of life due to external causes

The number of people, who died in fires or drowned, exceeded the number of people, who died due to criminal actions, by a third in 2021 alone. The same trend is seen this year which means the state fire service and municipal authorities should do better, Andrei Shved is convinced.

In his words, in order to prevent people from dying in fires it is necessary to put efforts into preventing abuse of alcohol, into facilitating population employment, and into proper work of social services. It is necessary to properly examine heating equipment and other kinds of equipment and infrastructure in Belarusian households. The Emergencies Ministry plays a leading role in this work but for one year already the ministry has been unable to work out the regulatory act, which is supposed to specify the procedure for examining the households and the composition of the relevant commissions.

Teenagers and crimes

According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, the number of suicides and attempts at suicide among the underage increased in 2021. School teachers often fail to notice depressed students and fail to take measures. Sexual violence against kids is becoming an urgent problem. The number of victims of such crimes has increased by 40% -- from 525 to 742 kids. Domestic violence is another growing problem.

“The lack of an individual approach to every kid is the key problem, in our opinion. Apart from that, the work of social and psychological services is ineffective. It is also necessary to address shortcomings in the educational process. The number of kids in a class is beyond the standard limit in 79% of the preschool institutions in Minsk. Slow construction of kindergartens in comparison with housing construction is the main reason. The same problem can be observed in an overwhelming majority of schools in Minsk and the district,” the prosecutor general said.

He also mentioned catering service violations in educational institutions: “Portions are reduced by 20-30% everywhere and children simply refuse to eat what they are offered. Wastage sometimes makes 75%.”

Andrei Shved also mentioned facts of excessive academic workload for kids and thoughtless experimentation with school curricula. It is necessary to informally approach the spiritual, moral education and leisure activities of kids. “We should reach out to every kid starting with the kindergarten and instill love and respect for our motherland and other important moral and ideological values in them. Future successful development of our country hinges on it,” the prosecutor general stressed.

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