24 May 2021  The participants of the public hearing

24 May 2021 The participants of the public hearing

Monday, 24 May 2021

Third Public Hearing on Changes to Constitution in Field of Judiciary

The National Assembly hosted the third 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 thanked National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic, Minister of Justice Maja Popovic, Director of the Judicial Academy, representatives of civil society, international organisations, EU delegation, OSCE, Council of Europe Office in Belgrade and representatives of embassies.

In his introductory speech, National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic said that the with this series of public hearings, we intend to include all the relevant social factors in the process of Constitutional amendment, to hear their views and proposals and secure the broadest possible agreement on the future text of the Constitution. Adding that changes to the Constitution are not, nor should they be, an easy task, he said that by changing the supreme legal act of our country, after 15 years, what we do now will remain the foundation of our legal order for decades to come. The National Assembly Speaker informed the attending that today's discussion will be followed by talks with everyone who can help us reach the best solutions, outside of Belgrade - in Nis, Novi Sad and Kragujevac.

The National Assembly Speaker informed the attending that the proposal to change the Constitution would be considered at the National Assembly convened viz. the decision proposal to initiate the procedure for constitutional changes. After that, the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues should determine the draft text of the constitutional changes, which the National Assembly would rule on again, followed by a referendum in which all citizens would vote on the proposals, said Dacic.

Minister of Justice Maja Popovic also addressed the assembly, as the authorised representative of the proposer, who briefly explained the reasons for the change of the Constitution in the field of justice. 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, and 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.

Maja 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 of the public hearing shared their opinions, views and constructive proposals as regards the constitutional changes in the field of judiciary and securing a higher degree of responsibility and independence in the work of judges and public prosecutors.

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