Czech Republic: A new tool in the fight against corruption – bribers who report a case of passive corruption may under certain circumstances escape punishment
Until recently, both promising and actually giving a bribe constituted a criminal offense, and as such always had to be prosecuted by law enforcement, even in cases of what is known as “passive corruption”, where one person promises (or gives) the other person a bribe simply because that other person asked for it (e.g. a public servant within the context of processing an official request). Because of the looming threat of criminal prosecution, the bribe-giver has no motivation to report the corruptive practice, thus further contributing to an environment in the Czech Republic that is rife with corruption.
An amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Criminal Code which has come into force on 1 July 2016 goes some way to remedy the situation. According to this new law, law enforcement newly has the leeway to decide on the temporary suspension of criminal prosecution of a person who is suspected of the enumerated criminal offenses (as they promised a bribe or a pecuniary or other advantage, though only because it was asked) and who of their own volition and without further delay brought this to the attention of the authorities. Such suspension of criminal prosecution further requires that the suspect provide all known information about the criminal activities of the person who asked for the bribe, and that the suspect give comprehensive and truthful testimony of these facts in criminal proceedings. If the suspect satisfies these two requirements, i.e., in particular, if they testify with a full and true statement, then the public prosecutor may decide do drop the case against the suspect altogether. Such a decision by the public prosecutor is final and constitutes res iudicata, and as such an obstacle to any future prosecution of the said individual for the same offense, even at a later point.
At this point, we should stress that this leniency option (of initial suspension of prosecution and a subsequent decision not to press the case) only applies to person who merely promised a bribe, but not to those who already gave it. In spite of this fact, the new rules are undeniably good news, and we can only hope that they will help solve more and more cases of criminal corruption.
Source: Act No. 163/2016 Coll., on the amendment of Act No. 141/1961 Coll., on criminal judicial procedure (Code of Criminal Procedure), as amended, and of Act No. 40/2009 Coll., the Criminal Code, as amended