27 May 2021  The participants of the public hearing

27 May 2021 The participants of the public hearing

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Fifth Public Hearing on Changes to Constitution in Field of Judiciary

The National Assembly hosted the fifth public hearing on the changes to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in the field of the judiciary, organised by the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues Jelena Zaric Kovacevic said that the Committee had organised a series of public hearings on constitutional, changes, attended, besides the MPs, by representatives of the judiciary, bar associations, universities, as well as the civil sector dealing with the rule of law. Representatives of embassies of EU Member States, the UK, US and Canada were invited to the fifth public hearing, as well as representatives of international organisations -EU delegation to Serbia, OSCE and the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade.

In his introductory speech, National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic said that the the procedure Constitutional amendment is complex and requires the consent in practically all branches of government - legislative, executive and judicial, and finally the confirmation of the proposed changes by referendum. But the participation of the general public in the preparation of constitutional changes is no less important than the institutional procedure, Dacic claimed, because that is the only guarantee that we will reach a solution suitable for our democratic development and compliant with our obligations arising from the EU membership negotiations.

He stressed that the previous four rounds of public hearings were venues of excellent discussions with a very wide circle of participants and all this confirms that by organizing this form of public dialogue we have acted appropriately, because these conversations will undoubtedly result in good and useful solutions for the work ahead. Dacic asked the participants to voice their suggestions openly and concretely, including experiences of similar procedures in other countries, because the hearing is open to all proposals that can contribute to making the Country’s constitutional framework more modern and fair.

However he drew attention to what appears as a paradox that the National Assembly is most in favor of changing the Constitution, and those concerned, i.e. judges and prosecutors, do not express much support. The paradox is, he said, that many political parties that say they are pro-European, are also opposed to changing the Constitution.
“That is why my question addressed to you, representatives of the diplomatic corps, was, whether what we are doing is in line with, among other things, your recommendations? This is not the domain of political struggle, this is the domain of the story of independence of the judiciary. I say this because I would not like this story to turn into a relation of government-opposition, parties of one or the other orientation, or to have what we are doing eventually criticised, and if it is done at your recommendation, it would be important to hear your position”, concluded the National Assembly Speaker.

Minister of Justice Maja Popovic, as the authorised representative of the proposer, briefly explained the reasons for the change of the Constitution in the field of justice, saying that the proposed changes to the Constitution are envisaged as an activity in the Negotiation Chapter 23 Action Plan adopted by the Government of the Republic of Serbia on 27 April 2016 and revised on 10 July 2020. They are the most significant reform concerning the rule of law, a core value of any democratic society and one of the priorities of the European Union, the Minister pointed out.

The Republic of Serbia should to analyse the existing provisions of the Constitution from the standpoint of general acceptance of European and international standards, expressed through documents of the European Union, United Nations, Council of Europe, especially the Venice Commission, as well as the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice CEPEJ,
Consultative Council of European Judges, Consultative Council of European Prosecutors and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, stated Popovic.

She said that after the analysis, it was determined that the provisions of the Constitution in the field of judiciary need to be changed in order to implement a better system for proposing, electing, transferring and terminating the judicial office of judges, court presidents, public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors. This would allow the entry into the judiciary to be based on objective evaluation criteria, fair selection procedures, openness to all appropriately qualified candidates and transparency to the general public.

The responsibility of the High Judicial Council and State Prosecutorial Council needs to be heightened, as well as that of judges and public prosecutors, as this would lead to the creation of a better judiciary, stressed the Minister, adding that this greater responsibility could be encouraged by prescribing the permanence of office.

Popovic concluded that any comment, suggestion or criticism voiced during the public debate is of great importance for finding the best possible solutions as regards constitutional change in the field of the judiciary.

In the ensuing discussion, the participants exchanged opinions, views and constructive proposals as regards the constitutional changes in the field of judiciary.

Committees related to this activity

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friday, 3 february
  • 11.00 - continuation of the Third Special Sitting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, 13th Legislature (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square)

  • 12.00 - press conference of the MPs of the People’s Party Parliamentary Group (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)

  • 14.00 - sitting of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 2)

  • 15.30 - press conference of MP Dragan Nikolic (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)

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