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

Prosecutors, prosecution agencies and associations of prosecutors can encounter difficulties in a variety of situations. Sometimes prosecutors may face direct challenges from those in positions of authority, while on other occasions the challenges can be more subtle. Experience has shown the need for constant vigilance to protect prosecutors from such threats, maintain their independence and uphold the rule of law.

Article 8.2 of the IAP Constitution requires the Executive Committee to assist members in accordance with the objects of the Association. Over the years, the IAP has received a variety of requests for assistance from members which have been managed on a case-by-case basis. In the process, lessons have been learned, including the need for clear and consistent procedures.

In October 2011, the Senate was asked to review the position and to prepare a draft Protocol indicating how cases of prosecutors in difficulty should be managed. The original Protocol was adopted by the Executive Committee in May 2012 and a refreshed Protocol, which now regulates the way in which the Association processes requests for assistance from prosecutors in difficulty, was adopted by the Executive Committee in May 2021.

The Protocol provides detailed procedures for the handling of requests, from start to finish. Whenever a prosecutor, prosecution agency or association of prosecutors claims to be in difficulty and requests assistance, the IAP has in place mechanisms to ensure the effective, just, and timely processing of the request to achieve an outcome which appropriately addresses the basis of the request, satisfies the objects of the IAP, and promotes the rule of law.

 A Standing Committee on Prosecutors in Difficulty (SCPID), drawn from the Executive Committee and the Senate, guided by the Protocol, advises the President on how best to respond to the difficulties which confront prosecutors in particular situations.

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