The prosecution of criminal suspects is an integral part of a country's justice system. While substantial scholarly attention has been devoted to the study of the police and judges and their relevance to the rule of law, surprisingly little is known about prosecutors. The aim of this paper is to contribute towards filling this knowledge gap. We first demonstrate the rising importance of prosecutors in criminal justice systems around the world. We identify the independence of prosecution agencies from the other two branches of government as a centrally important characteristic and then proceed to analyse the determinants of de facto prosecutorial independence from a political economy perspective. We find that press freedom, the immunity of parliamentarians and belonging to the common law tradition are positively associated with higher de facto independence.