New ICJ report analyses the transition to judicial self-governance in Serbia

The report, published today, assesses the current state of the independence and accountability of the Serbian judiciary and prosecution service, and, in particular, the self-governance of the two professions under the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutors’ Council.

Following ICJ’s visit to Serbia on 26-30 October 2015, the report Serbia’s judges and prosecutors: the long road to independent self-governance concludes that a culture of dependency from the Executive still exists in the Serbian judiciary and that the system is affected by a stress of reform, due to the continued introduction of new judicial reforms without proper implementation.

The ICJ considers that the self-governance of the judiciary and of the prosecution service, entrusted respectively to the High Judicial Council and to the State Prosecutorial Council, is relatively weak.

The ICJ mission has identified considerable shortcomings in these bodies, including:

  • excessive dependence in practice on the political branches of government;
  • lack of effective procedures and of sufficient will in the Councils to defend the independence, autonomy and professional integrity of their professions and of individual judges and prosecutors;
  • appointment, selection and dismissal procedures open to direct and indirect political influence;
  • lack of effective procedures of evaluation of the work of judges and prosecutors;
  • misuse of such procedures to impose conformity in decisions;
  • a strong hierarchical system in the prosecution service and, in practice, in the judiciary, that undermines internal independence and risks undermining independence of investigations and prosecutions.

The mission, aimed to assess the situation of self-governance of the judiciary and of the prosecutorial service at a critical juncture in their development, took place in the context of the ICJ’s global objective to advance the effective administration of justice and the independence of judges and lawyers.

Serbia-Long Road to Indep Self-Gov-Publications-Reports- Fact-Finding Mission Report-2016-ENG (full report in PDF, English)

Serbia-Long Road to Indep Self-Gov-Publications-Reports- Fact-Finding Mission Report-2016-SER (full report in PDF, Serbian)

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