—Dragoljub Popović, Union University School of Law, Belgrade – Serbia, and Tanasije Marinković, University of Belgrade School of Law, Serbia
Towards the end of 2020, the Government renewed a two-year old initiative to amend the 2006 Constitution. The Amendment Initiative was addressed to the National Assembly, which has only one chamber. So far, the National Assembly has not taken any action on the Government’s Initiative.
The Amendment Initiative does not stipulate in any detail the amendments that should be made to the Constitution. It only enumerates which provisions of the Constitution should be amended, and it lays out the reasons for this constitutional reform.
The Initiative points solely to the provisions of the Constitution that regulate the judicial branch of government. These are Articles 4, 99, 105, 142-165 and 172.
As to the reasons for this constitutional reform, the Amendment Initiative evokes the obligations which Serbia has undertaken in the process of its integration into the European Union. Specifically, Serbia has undertaken to strengthen the rule of law, in particular the independence and the efficiency of the judiciary.
The Amendment Initiative also refers to the National Strategy for the Reform of the Judiciary. The National Strategy is a political document which bridges the EU integration processes with the judicial reform objectives. The Amendment Initiative emphasizes the importance of this National Strategy as well as the importance of judicial reform. The Amendment Initiative targets in particular those constitutional provisions which stipulate the involvement of the legislative and executive branches of government in the appointment and dismissal of judges, of presidents of the courts and prosecutors, as well as the involvement of the legislative and executive branches in the appointment of the members of the High Judicial Council and State Prosecutorial Council. In addition, the National Strategy seeks to redefine the role of the Judicial Academy as a compulsory passage for eligibility to judicial and prosecutorial posts.
In addition, the Amendment Initiative recalls the Venice Commission Opinion on the 2006 Constitution, which criticized the involvement of the National Assembly in judicial appointments and in the appointments in the High Judicial Council for raising a real risk of politicizing these processes.
Finally, it is worth noting that he Amendment Initiative’s proposed reform of the judiciary could also lead to the elimination of certain inconsistences in the Constitution, notably those related to the sources of law on the basis of which judges adjudicate, the “double” title of the “Supreme Court of Cassation,” the systematization of the provisions on the personal independence of the judges, the constitutionalization of the conditions for the dismissal of judges and prosecutors, and the full reestablishment of the permanent tenure of judicial office.
It remains to be seen whether and when the National Assembly will take action on the Government’s Amendment Initiative.
Suggested Citation: Dragoljub Popović and Tanasije Marinković, The Stalled Amendment Initiative in Serbia, Int’l J. Const. L. Blog, Apr. 3, 2021, at: http://www.iconnectblog.com/2021/03/the-stalled-amendment-initiative-in-serbia