The Minister of Justice of Serbia, Maja Popović, requested an opinion of the Venice Commission on five draft Laws aimed at implementing the recent constitutional amendments concerning the organisation of the judiciary and the prosecution service. Following this request, the Venice Commission adopted its opinion “On three draft laws implementing the constitutional amendments on the judiciary” during the plenary session on 20 - 21 October 2022. It assesses the draft Law on the Organisation of the Courts, the draft Law on Judges, and the draft Law on the High Judicial Council, while the remaining two draft laws will be assessed in the upcoming period.
In the opinion, the Venice Commission praises the Serbian authorities for the considerable effort they invested in the preparation of the legislative package implementing the constitutional amendments, and for the inclusiveness of the process of preparation of it. It encourages the Serbian authorities to continue in the same spirit of inclusiveness and transparency and ensure proper public consultations in the coming months before a parliamentary vote on the bills.
The Venice Commission observes that despite many positive changes, the Serbian judicial system is still characterised by a hierarchal spirit and multiple forms of evaluations and controls. It further notes that coupled with the problem of modest judicial salaries it may affect the attractiveness of the judicial profession for young judges.
The Venice Commission is of the view that a change in the legal culture within the judiciary may be required to supplement positive changes brought by the ongoing legislative reform.
The opinion was prepared under the Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism in the framework of the joint EU and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 - 2022”, implemented by the Council of Europe.