Lawyers criticise amendments to Serbian constitution

Lawyers criticise amendments to Serbian constitution Izvor: Tanjug/Rade Prelić

Serbian judiciary associations have criticised the proposed amendments to the Serbian constitution which the Justice Ministry published on Tuesday, saying that the changes were only cosmetic and and not in line with most of the recommendations made by the Venice Commission.

Association of Judges President Dragana Boljevic said the draft amendments have made no fundamental changes. “We made some suggestions when the first draft appeared in April and called for the forming of a working group which would include constitutional law experts,” she said adding that she is not surprised that no fundamental changes were made.

According to Boljevic, one of the main problems is the fact that the relationship between the three branches of government has not been defined. Another problem that she listed is the increased political influence on the country’s top judiciary body, the High Judiciary Council.

Boljevic said her organization would call the government to organize a debate on the constitutional amendments with parliament forming a working group for experts to voice their objections.

Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights (YUCOM) Director Milan Antonijevic said the Justice Ministry was guided by a minimum of standards while drafting the amendments.

“YUCOM is concerned over the fact that the Justice Ministry did not fully respect the solutions recommended by the Venice Commission in regard to the composition of the VSS which would not give representatives of the executive authorities, who can be named to the VSS, a vote on that body which is supposed to guarantee the independence of the judiciary,” he said.

Antonijevic said that the draft amendments are also not in line with the recommendations about the accountability of the Supreme Public Prosecutor and added that the composition of the High Prosecutors’ Council does not guarantee protection from political influence on prosecutors.

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