Monday, 20 November 2017

MPs propose steps to avoid leaks from police files

ČTK |
13 September 2017

Prague, Sept 12 (CTK) - The Chamber of Deputies made several recommendations on how to prevent leaks of information from Czech police and court files on Tuesday based on the work of its commission dealing with such leaks.

These recommendations are not binding on the government.

The MPs recommended that a special body be established at the Supreme State Attorney's Office to investigate suspected criminal activities of state attorneys. They also recommended that law enforcement bodies be bound to register their contacts with media and make records on these contacts a part of the respective investigation files.

The MPs also want all data except those presented within public court proceedings, including wiretappings and reports on house searches, to be viewed as private personal data and protected accordingly.

They also want the public interest in gaining and releasing data from criminal proceedings to be defined more precisely and the crime of abuse of power to include information leaks.

The Security Forces General Inspection Authority (GIBS) and private detectives should not be allowed to receive information from the police or state attorneys.

The Chamber took a separate vote on each recommendation on Tuesday. A vast majority of the MPs present voted in support of the recommendations.

The commission's head Martin Plisek (TOP 09) said the number of registered information leaks is growing and the current controlling mechanisms do not make it possible to reveal how the information leaked.

Information leaks from criminal files, their expedient interpretation and subsequent influencing of public opinion may fatally threaten constitutionality, the commission said in its final report. The commission concludes that information leaks are a dangerous phenomenon since various interest groups can use them to change public opinion with the aim to influence a political competition and thereby destabilise the democratic rule of law, the commission said.

The commission was established mainly due to the leaks of the recordings of conversations between government ANO chairman and former finance minister Andrej Babis and Marek Pribil, former journalist from the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that Babis had owned. However, the report does not deal with this case in particular as its text is rather general.

In the recordings, Babis and Pribil discuss prepared articles about Babis's political rivals and the most suitable time for releasing such compromising material. Further recordings in which they debated the police investigation into some cases emerged later. However, Babis and Pribil denied having ever had police files on open cases in their hands.

Babis, who was dismissed from the coalition cabinet in May due to his dubious business activities, says the recordings are manipulated and are part of a campaign against him.

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