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Proclamation to the citizens

17. 10. 11



On the occasion of the planned amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia regardingthe part pertaining to the judiciary, to which amendments the Republic of Serbia has committed to in its accession negotiations to the European Union,


Taking into account that neither existence nor any work activities of the Working group for the Constitutional amendments is known, that the proposal on the Constitutional amendments of the Ministry of Justice is not known to the public and that the consultations carried out by the Ministry of Justice do not represent a genuine public debate, but are a mere means of diverting the public’s attention from the main topic – political influence over the judiciary,

Having responded to the invitation of the Ministry of Justice and submitted, as well as other civil society organizations, their views on amending the Constitution,

Reminding that the number of Parliament members ready to vote in favour of amendments is not decisive for a democratic character of a constitution,

Expecting mutual respect of actors in this process and their readiness for concessions for the sake of finding the best solutions,

Indicating the importance of a proper public debate on the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in its part concerning the judiciary,

Wishing that a wide and substantial public debate gives creation to a democratic and long-lasting Constitution of the Republic of Serbia,


  E M P H A S I Z E

  human rights of the citizens depend on the Constitution, which is a fundamental and the highest legal act of a country

  the Republic of Serbia belongs to the European legal system and the unity of its legal order should not be violated

  the obtained level of independence of the judiciary and autonomy of prosecutorial service cannot be decreased

  a constitution should contain the most general legal principles and rules only

  all three branches of power maintain and are equally responsible for the rule of law

  P R O P O S E


     The judiciary should be protector of citizens’ interests, but not of interests of power

The judiciary and public prosecution have to be constitutionally protected from the abuse of political power, and independent from the legislative and executive branches; everyone, even the highest ranked state officials, have to be responsible for abuse and unconscientiousness in performing a public function.

      The judiciary should be a guarantee of the rule of law, human rights and citizens’ freedoms

The judiciary and public prosecution, as well as jurisdictions of courts and public prosecution offices, have to be constitutionally mandated as a guarantee of constitutionality and legality, as well as human rights and citizens’ freedoms.

       Constitutional guarantees of independence of the judiciary and autonomy of public prosecution need to be strengthened

Once reached, the guarantees of independence and autonomy must not be violated, and should be improved. Independence and autonomy are not a matter of judges’ and public prosecutors’ privilege, but guarantees to the citizens that justice will be achieved – the judiciary more independent – justice more certain.

A constitution should guarantee material independence and autonomy of the judiciary and public prosecution.

Reasons for termination of office and dismissal of judges and public prosecutors should be a constitutional barrier from unallowed influences on the judiciary and a means of removal of those incompetent and susceptible to unallowed influences; dismissal must not be a means of deterrence or elimination of the unwanted.

      Exclusion of politics from selection and advancement of judges and public prosecutors

Matters concerning the selection and advancement of judges, presidents of courts, public prosecutors and principal public prosecutors should be decided upon by the judicial councils, not by the National Assembly, nor any other state body.

Professionalism, integrity and resilience to pressures should be the main criteria for selection of judges and public prosecutors.

Elaboration of these matters is to be regulated by a law.

     Exclusion of politics from functioning of the judiciary

Liability for deficiencies in functioning of the judiciary (e.g. inadequate efficiency, unharmonised judicial decisions), lies with, apart from the judiciary, the legislative and executive branches of power (for the reason of frequent, often inadequate and unharmonised laws, inadequate jurisdictions, territory and organisation of the work of judicial bodies, structure, number and conditions of work of their employees).

The ways for solving these matters (applicable laws, unburdening/equal burdening, adequate training of judges and public prosecutors, evaluation of their work, harmonised application of law, improvements in decisions’ argumentation, especially the ones passed by the courts of the highest instances, access to database of regulations and decisions, including their easy search ability) can be varied, depending on the assessment of its purposefulness and changing societal circumstances, and therefore should be placed in laws instead of a constitution. Such ways should not destabilize the legal order, nor are they permitted to endanger the independence of judges and the autonomy of public prosecutors.

     Exclusion of politics from judicial councils

From the composition of High Judicial Council and State Prosecutorial Council omit the politicians – representatives of the legislative and the executive branches.

Majority in the councils should be comprised of judges or public prosecutors respectively.

      Freedom of thought and speech of judges and public prosecutors should be inviolable

The right of judges and public prosecutors to freedom of thought and expression related to their profession and protection of the judicial independence and autonomy should be confirmed by the Constitution.

      Public prosecution service should be enabled by a constitution to respond to challenges of a modern society

Public prosecution should become a judicial body and, in performing its jurisdiction, it should be independent from politics and the executive branch. Within and apart from its main function – protection of a society from crime, the public prosecution should protect fundamental legal values – constitutionality and legality, human rights and citizens’ freedoms of everyone in the legal order (rights of workers and others).

There is a need for abolition of obsolete organisation of public prosecution officesso that everyone performing their functions in public prosecution offices becomes a public prosecutor with full rights and responsibilities.

  I N F O R M

That they will jointly with partners from civil society organisations organise public debates on constitutional amendments alongside representatives of the judiciary and citizens and

  C A L L   U P O N

THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES to openly debate on amendments of the Constitution, not to simply pass them. A matter of the best judicial system for our society and state is everyone’s concern, and not a question for one government. Deadlines must not be a limiting factor in a debate on the Constitution.

PROFESSIONAL AND WIDER PUBLIC to join the debate on constitutional amendments with the attention that adoption of the fundamental and the highest legal act of our country requires.

MEDIA to devote particular attention to the process of amending the Constitution and to objectively inform citizens on this matter, that is of crucial importance for every democratic society.


Judges’ Association of Serbia

Prosecutors’ Association of Serbia

Centre for Judicial Research