Monday, October 08, 2007

Czech Penal Code Will be Changed

Czech Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil (Civic Democrats, ODS) today presented a draft new Penal Code that aims at the improvement of the protection of people.

Pospisil said the government might discuss the bill this year and the Chamber of Deputies would thus be able to take a vote on it next year.

The new legislation lowers the age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 14 years and toughens the punishment for grievous bodily harm from the current 8 to 12 years. It also toughens the conditions for the convicts' release from prison on bail.

The Justice Ministry has embedded people's proposals in the new version of the bill. Out of the 330 proposals the ministry received 27 found reflection in the legislation, Pospisil said.

The new Penal Code does not address euthanasia. It was mainly the junior governing Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) who emphatically protested against including a law in the new Penal Code that would legalise the practice of ending the life of a person who is terminally ill on his or her own request.

The new legislation will strengthen the position of state attorneys who will no longer be obliged to submit to a court all cases of suspected crimes or offences, but will be able to assess by themselves the extent of their threat to the public.

The current Penal Code was adopted in the 1960s and has been amended many times.

In the past, the Chamber of Deputies discussed the ministry's draft new Penal Code. However, it always rejected the bill and sent it back to the Justice Ministry for reworking.

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