The State Audit Office (VK) is conducting a repeated audit of criminal investigation processes at the Prosecutor’s Office, Latvian Radio reported September 21.
It is no secret that pre-trial investigations last very long, and findings of the previous audit highlighted a large number of cases closed due to period of limitation. VK is carrying out the audit to assess how effectively resources are used in crime investigation. The audit shall be concluded by the end of the year.
This is the first-ever audit in Latvia directly on the effectiveness of the work of the Prosecutor General’s Office. In this “audit of the century”, the VK will point to shortcomings in the prosecutor’s office in the hope that they will finally be improved.
In 2017, the VK closed an audit which explained whether appropriate action was taken to promote the effectiveness of the courts. The audit report concluded that Latvia lags well behind neighboring countries in the length of proceedings. On the other hand, Latvia is a leader in judicial spending relative to GDP. There were significant differences in the capacity of judges, with the highest capacity in the Rīga judicial area. A high proportion of the judgments have been amended and annulled: more than a fifth. Pre-trial investigations have lasted very long, and cases do not always come to a conviction.
The new audit also examines whether the public prosecutor should be more actively involved in the investigation of the case from the outset. Former Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers said the prosecutor’s office had few resources, so it could not take on such a role.
Member of the VK council Ilze Grīnhofa said that for the time being, the resources of the prosecutor’s office are sufficient. The State Audit shall also address the issue of the use of resources.
Ilze Grīnhofa believes that there are shortcomings in the work organization. Most likely, the issue is inter-institutional cooperation, a lack of shared vision and understanding of the application of a given framework.
If cooperation was more effective, then there would not be such a large number of outgoing criminal proceedings as well as such a long pretrial investigation process, Grīnhofa said.