Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the legal reforms aimed to create an independent, efficient and responsible judiciary for the benefit of all citizens and not because of the EU, while local and international experts still insisted on solutions which would eliminate any political influence, the Beta news agency reported.
Addressing a roundtable discussion on the latest draft of the constitutional amendments related to the judiciary, she said the only question she had was “from whom or from what a judiciary should be independent?”
Brnabic added that every country had a scrutinising mechanism, so it should be the case in Serbia too.
The head of the OSCE mission in Serbia Andrea Orizio reiterated that the goal of legal reforms in Serbia should be an independent and efficient judiciary from which the citizens would benefit and that by carrying out those reforms the country was showing what it wanted to be.
So far, the Venice Commission has had many remarks to the previous drafts from Belgrade, mostly concerning the presence of political influence over the judiciary, and the Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic and other Serbia’s officials have said the last draft would remove them.
“Venice Commission’s opinion gives broad possibilities in different areas where it has made remarks. We hope that Serbia won’t opt for the minimal option,” Orizio said.
Sem Fabrizi, the EU delegation chief in Serbia said that the rule of law was one of critical elements for Serbia to become a bloc member and that the constitutional reform should eliminate any political influence as one of the essential preconditions.
Hannah Juncker, the head of the Council of Europe’s Department of Justice and Legal Cooperation, said the primary challenge to the constitutional reforms was that they had to guarantee the independence of the judiciary, adding it was not an easy job, but necessary for Serbia’s EU membership.
Kuburovic said that not even the third draft of the constitutional amendments was a final version and that it would be updated with the round table’s comments. Then, she said, the updated version would be sent to the Parliamentary board for constitutional issues and legislature which would organise the debates.
Kuburovic added she believed that the draft had eliminated all kinds of political pressures, but said that surveys showed that the judges were mostly exposed to pressure within the system from the colleagues and courts’ presidents.
However, the Society of Judges and the State Council of Prosecutors disagreed. The Society’s President Omer Hadziomerovic and the Deputy president of the prosecutors’ Council Goran Ilic told reporters that the political influence had not been eliminated and that the new draft did not enhance the independence of the judiciary.