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Judges’ Association of Serbia marked its jubilee

17. 07. 12

Judges’ Association of Serbia, the first and the largest professional association of judges in Serbia, marked two decades of its existence and fight for affirmation of the law as profession and discipline, of advocating for the rule of law and legal state, independent and autonomous judiciary, for reputation and financial status of judges as well as for improvement of provisions on organisation and work of courts, by organising and international conference and ceremonial assembly of the Judges’ Association of Serbia in Belgrade on 7 and 8 July 2017.

International conference Experiences of professional associations of judges in safeguarding judicial independence, supported by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission to Serbia and French Embassy in Serbia, gathered judges of all court instances, from different cities throughout the country and abroad, public prosecutors, members of the High Judicial Council, State Prosecutorial Council, Supreme Court of Cassation, Office of Ombudsman, Association of public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors of Serbia, Association of judicial and prosecutorial assistants, Association of judicial assistants of Serbia, Law Faculty of University of Belgrade, national and international organisations and associations Judges’ Association of Serbia has successfully collaborated with over the years.

The opening remarks of the conference were provided by, on behalf of the Judges’ Association of Serbia, Judges Omer Hadžiomerović, Deputy President, and Snežana Bjelogrlić, President of the Management Board, but also by Andrea Orizio, Head of OSCE Mission to Serbia, who emphasized the importance of the independence of judiciary and the role professional associations bear in its protection, especially in the context of judicial and expected constitutional reforms in Serbia, while at the same time reflecting on the successful cooperation of Judges’ Association of Serbia with OSCE Mission to Serbia over the years. Philippe Cerf, first counsellor and chargéd’affaires ad interim of the French Embassy to Serbia, then addressed the conference by emphasising that it was not necessary to remind of the importance of independence of judiciary, which is embedded in democratic systems of the separation of powers and, while congratulating to Serbia for the opening of the Chapter 23 of the accession to the EU negotiations, welcomed the initiative of the Judges’ Association of Serbia to organise a gathering on such an important topic on the occasion of its jubilee. Introductory remarks were concluded by address of Goran Ilić, President of the Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Public Prosecutors of Serbia and a member of the State Prosecutorial Council, by reminding that the attacks on judicial independence and prosecutorial autonomy are, by a rule, simultaneous and that the challenges that are before the judges and public prosecutors are identical. He also looked back at the similar challenges that the two professional associations of judges and public prosecutors faced mutually over the years of their existence and at their cooperation and also expressed the gratitude for the support the Judges’ Association provided to the Prosecutors’ Association.

The first panel of the conference was dedicated to the experiences of the national professional associations in safeguarding judicial independence and, as such, it contained the presentations of professional associations given by judges from Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, and France that shared the experiences of the associations from their respective countries and specificities that every one of them has, as well as on their struggle for independent judiciary in these countries. The experiences within this panel were presented by, from Serbia, Dragana Boljević, President of the Judges’ Association of Serbia and Judge of the Belgrade Court of Appeal; from Germany, Hans-Ernst Böttcher, representative of German association Ver.di and former President of Lübeck District Court, who explained context of judicial associations of judges in this country; from Slovenia, Janja Roblek, former President of Slovenian Association of Judges (Slovensko sodniško društvo) until recently and judge of the District Court in Kranj; from Croatia, Đuro Sessa, honorary President of Croatian Association of Judges (Udruga hrvatskih sudaca) and Justice of the Supreme Court of Croatia; while the presentation of the history of professional associations of judges in France and social context of their inception and operation was provided by Simone Gaboriau, former President of French association of magistrates Syndicat de la magistrature and former President of a Chamber of Court of Appeals in Paris.

Second thematic panel included intervention of Christoph Régnard, French Judge and President of the International Association of Judges, that the Judges’ Association of Serbia is a member of, as the only representative from Serbia, alongside other 84 associations worldwide, as well as that of Gualtiero Michelini, Judge of Court of Appeals in Rome and President of European association of judges and public prosecutors for democracy and liberties – MEDEL (Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés), that gathers 21 associations from 15 European countries. Each of the two Presidents explained the manner these two international associations, respectively, operationally protect independence of judiciary in the countries their association-members come from, as well as the challenges they face. The final thematic panel was dedicated to the role of European institutions in protection of judicial independence. As a part of this panel, the presentations were provided by Đuro Sessa, as a Vice-President of the Consultative Council of the European Judges of the Council of Europe, who explained the inception, composition and activities of this body, as well as António Cluny, EU expert, representative of Portugal at Eurojust and former President of MEDEL, who explained, from the domain of judiciary, the decisions of European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. After completion of the presentations, a dynamic discussion of the panellists and attendees ensued.


A day after the international conference, the Judges’ Association of Serbia held its ceremonial Assembly during which Omer Hadžiomerović and Leposava Karamarković, members of the Initial board for foundation of the Association, recalled the circumstances of the inception of the Association as well as great impacts it endured during the years of its existence. At the same time, they emphasised that the Association will never recede from its goals and that it will pursue to protect the principles it was founded upon, while reminding of the words of the professor dr Zoran Ivošević, which were read out:


the submissive role of courts that turn the elections to self-appointment.

a dependent judiciary, in which a court “cleanses” daily politics instead of being a symbol of a legal state.

obedience to daily politics and trials that please political will of any party.

appointment of judges who are loyal but incompetent.

to protect the state from democracy, since democracy is to be protected from the state, if the state is not worthy  

a silence on the disgrace of judiciary, if decisions that serve no honour to judiciary cause me to turn red of shame.


Apart from looking back to past two decades of activities of the Association, official reports on functioning of the Association and its Management and Supervisory Boards were submitted at the Assembly, alongside the framework for the future activities. The Assembly was opened by intoning the anthem and selection of Serbian melodies by the choir Ars vocalis, it had a ceremonial spirit and was completed by a theatre play Badger before the court performed by Pozorište lektira, with the presence of Simone Gaboriau and Hans-Ernst Böttcher, guests and friends of the Association.