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Judges' Association: Unacceptable attitude of the Government representatives towards judges. The Ministry: This is a public debate

17. 10. 24

The Judges' Association of Serbia has asked the Minister of Justice Nela Kuburović and the High Judicial Council (HJC) to express their views about "inappropriate comments" and "unacceptable attitude" of the Assistant Minister Čedomir Backović and Advisor to the Minister Zoran Balinovac towards judges during consultations on changes of the Serbian Constitution in the part regulating the judiciary.

The Judges' Association sent a letter yesterday to the Minister of Justice and HJC members informing them that during consultations held by the Ministry of Justice with civil and professional judicial associations on 13 October in Niš regarding changes of the Constitution it faced a "worrying and unacceptable" attitudes of the MoJ representatives towards the judges.

As stated by the Judges' Association, the Assistant Minister Čedomir Backović said on that occasion that judges and prosecutors advocate for turning the judiciary into a "limited liability company", an "art and craft shop" that will decide on human destinies at their whim.

"A Special Advisor to the Minister of Justice Zoran Balinovac said that the independence of judiciary was made a fetish, an ideological myth, that discussions about it had engendered judicial shock troopers who act as if they were above everything, that judges should not have the majority in judicial councils and that the prosecutors should be in minority, that the judges and prosecutors wanted to take over the power in Serbia, that the independence the judges had in Serbia, especially the kind they sought, did not exist anywhere else in the world, that proposals made by the judges and prosecutors were ridiculous,  etc.", reads the letter sent by the Association to the Minister of Justice and HJC.

The Judges' Association states that neither the Association nor the judges are enemies of any political power in Serbia, least of all of the citizens; on the contrary, they are faithful professionals trying to improve democratic society and rule of law in Serbia, and asks the Minister of Justice to react so as to avoid the described behaviour of MoJ representatives to be repeated in the future.

The Judges' Association of Serbia has also asked HJC to state their views, in line with their competences, regarding such declarations made in public by representatives of the executive power.

The Association further points that it would be very important in the near future to have a professional and open debate that will result in the best constitutional solutions for the judiciary in the interest of all citizens of Serbia, and asks the Council to ensure and encourage participation of judges and courts in this debate.

The Judges' Association expects the Council to react upon their request from 2 October regarding belittling, insults and threats to the judges and prosecutors, including announcements of their arrest.


The Ministry of Justice: Everyone is entitled to an opinion in a public debate

The Ministry of Justice has stated today that public debates are for expression of different views and criticism, regardless of whether someone likes them or not, thus reacting on dissatisfaction of the professional association – Judges' Association of Serbia, which pointed to an "unacceptable and worrying" behaviour of the representatives of this Ministry to the judges during the consultations on changes of the Serbian Constitution.

"Since this is the highest legal act of Serbia, the Ministry indicates that all views opinions need to be heard, including criticism, of both the expert public and professional associations, and the civil sector, no matter if specific individual views please or don't please some of the participants in the debate", says the Ministry of Justice in its statement, without commenting on concrete objections of the professional association.

The Ministry of Justice also states that the public debate was initiated in May with the aim to strengthen independence, impartiality and accountability of the judiciary.

"The Ministry of Justice reiterates once more that the point of the public debate is to ensure transparency of the process of drafting in this case a new Constitution of Serbia, in which views of all individuals should be heard so as to find the best common solution", states the Ministry of Justice.

As stated, two more public debates will be held until the end of this year – one in Novi Sad and one in Belgrade.


This is a translation of the article published by Blic newspaper. The original article is accessible on this link