Serbia’s EU Integration: Implementing Priorities of European Partnership with Serbia in the Field of Judicial Reform

December 20, 2009

Donor: Open Society Fund, British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Westminster Foundation, OEBS, Council of Europe

Duration of project: Jun 2009 – Jun 2010

This project is the latest stage of a long-term Programme launched in 1999, one of the longest and most prominent forms of partnership cooperation on rule of law in Serbia, boasting a lot of support and influence. The Programme has played an important role in Serbia’s rapprochement to the EU. The implementation of the project, entitled “Serbia’s EU Integration: Implementing Priorities of European Partnership with Serbia in the Field of Judicial Reform”, began in June 2009 and will last until June 2010. The project is a logical continuation of the above-mentioned long-term Programme.The project is jointly implemented by the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and the London-based AIRE Centre thanks to the support of the Fund for an Open Society Serbia. The project was designed and is being implemented in cooperation with the representatives of the Judicial Centre of the Republic of Serbia, of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts and of other Serbian courts. It has also been supported by the OSCE Mission to Serbia and the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade.

The purpose of the project is to help Serbia advance the rule of law in the crucial stage of the accession talks with the European Union. It aims to consolidate judicial reforms, promote human rights and address the key weaknesses identified in the European Commission 2008 Serbia Progress Report and in the European Partnership with Serbia document.

The project has the objectives to contribute to the fulfilment of EU requirements to establish the rule of law in Serbia, to strengthen the protection of human rights, particularly minority rights, to develop the role of the judiciary as part of the system for continuously checking and monitoring other branches of authority and to relieve the burden of cases in the Supreme and Constitutional Courts of Serbia and, ultimately, the European Court of Human Rights.

The project envisages organisation of four Round Tables for holders of judicial posts and other legal practitioners, publication of the Round Table reports and texts by certain panellists on the BCHR website and the establishment of an expert group that will formulate specific proposals and submit them to the relevant decision-makers.

By the end of 2009 three Round Tables on the following topics were organised:

1. Access to Justice: Effective Legal Remedy in Serbia, held in Belgrade on 23 June 2009

2. Enforcement of Court Decisions regarding Family Law, held in Belgrade on 15 October 2009

3. Freedom of Assembly and Principles of Prohibition of Discrimination: National Standards vis-à-vis the European Convention on Human Rights, held in Belgrade on 23 November 2009.

The Round Table reports were posted on the BCHR website and most of the texts by the Round Table lecturers