Why a Protocol for the Handling of Cases of Prosecutors in Difficulty

Prosecutors, prosecution agencies and associations of prosecutors can encounter difficulties in all sorts of situations. Sometimes prosecutors may face direct challenges from those in positions of authority, while on other occasions the danger can be more subtle. Experience has shown that prosecutors must be constantly vigilant, and that the IAP is central to the protection of their interests.

Article 8.2 of the IAP Constitution requires the Association’s Executive Committee “to assist members in accordance with the objects of the Association”. Over the years, the IAP has received varied requests for assistance from members, and these have been handled on a case-by-case basis. In the process, lessons have been learned, one of which has been that, if the IAP is to provide the fullest assistance to prosecutors in difficulty, there have to be clear procedures in place.

After several years of discussion within the Executive Committee on the best way forward, the Association’s Senate was asked in October 2011 to review the position, and to prepare a draft Protocol, indicating how cases of prosecutors in difficulty should be handled. This was done, and in May 2012 the Executive Committee adopted the draft Protocol, which now regulates the way in which the Association processes requests for assistance from prosecutors in difficulty.

The Protocol provides detailed procedures for the handling of cases, from start to finish. A Standing Committee on Prosecutors in Difficulty is established, drawn from the Executive Committee and the Senate, and this will advise the President on how best to respond to the difficulties which confront prosecutors in particular situations. The Protocol considers the scenarios most likely to arise, and provides guidance as to the conduct of investigations and the possible resolution of difficulties. 

Once the Protocol is fully implemented, it will do much to protect the interests of prosecutors everywhere. It will also reassure prosecutors that if they ever find themselves in difficulty, the Association is there for them, and able to provide them with the assistance they need. 

The Protocol is now available on the IAP website, and prosecutors are urged to familiarize themselves with its objectives and procedures.