A common rule of law

Sonam Penjor/Paro

To address joint visions of the two institutions of Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and to strengthen the professional capacity of law implementers, a five-days training on ‘Joint Investigation and Prosecution Training’ was conducted in Paro which concluded on 19th this week.

The training was also aimed at streamlining and drafting a uniform investigation and criminal prosecution of the RBP and revised prosecution manual of the OAG.

Attorney General (AG), Lungten Dubgyur, said the inception of this training was the culmination of His Majesty the King’s vision that the OAG as the state institution should respond to the emerging needs of the society in terms of specialization in the key areas of laws to promote due process, rule of law and the administration of justice in the Kingdom.  

For this purpose, he said the OAG has conducted a thorough research and has finalized tailor-made training programs and its contents incorporate the best of national and international practices with key resource persons from the Judiciary, OAG, Anti-Corruption Commission and RBP.

Lungten Dubgyur, said, the application of standard, uniform, and common methods of investigation and prosecution that are expected to uphold due process, protection of rights, women and children’s rights, rule of law, and the mainstreaming of criminal justice system in the country was their primary agenda.

Lt Col. Chador Namgay from RBP said it’s very difficult for them to contact each other when there was lack of coordination. “While police submit investigation report to OAG and if the case falls below petty misdemeanor, the police prosecute the case but if it above the misdemeour, the case should report to OAG.”

Chador Namgay added that OAG reinvestigate the case submitted by the OAG and frame the charge sheet. “If the OAG found lack of evidence which was submitted by the police, the OAG drop the case which is just a loss of RBP’s effort. Therefore, the training would improve the coordination among the institutions.”

He said the OAG, as the Central State Prosecution Agency, must continue to strive to provide access to justice both to the victim (s) as well as to the person(s) so charged.

“The OAG is also mandated to advise the government on various legal issues in upholding the rule of law and democratic structures. Invariably the RBP is one of the most important organizations of the State, tasked with legal responsibilities to uphold rule of law, and plays a crucial role to uphold the criminal justice system, besides carrying out the prosecution of criminal cases of offences that are of petty misdemeanor and below,” added the AG.

The key objectives of the training included strengthen professionalism, build capacity, and sensitize on basic human rights, constitutional principles, due process of law, fair trial, rule of law, and access to justice; share current and prevailing practices on the police investigation, anti-corruption investigations and compilation of uniform investigation reports across all police stations.

In addition they will come up with the best standard practices of scientific collection, compilation of evidence and case analysis and equip the prosecutors, police officials, and legal officers with the enhanced skills of drafting, well-counsel oral arguments, cross-examination, and criminal proceedings.

These also include preparing summary trials, evidence and closing statements, and execute and enforce court judgments with effectiveness and efficiency.

It also aims to enhance and improve the linkages between the two agencies with other justice sectors in matters related to the roles of prosecutors, police, and other agencies on ‘Diversion of Child in Conflict with Laws’ and address issues related to Domestic Violence, prevention, dictation, and response.

Meanwhile, the training culminated in the adoption of the “Common Investigation Procedure” and “uniform charge sheet” preparation by the RBP and update the existing “uniform charge sheet and prosecution manual” for the OAG.

The AG further said that the review of a case must involve a holistic outlook, due diligence, and incorporation of both the Evidentiary Test and Public Interest Test.

“For ensuring any state prosecution, our legal vetting must consider the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case, cost-benefit analysis, consistency, consequential fairness, and evaluation of the overall impact on the criminal justice system,” he said.

Meanwhile, the joint training will be organized in five batches of about 30 participants each covering a maximum number of law enforcers, state prosecutors and legal officers of the government agencies.