PACE monitoring co-rapporteurs for Serbia, Ian Liddell-Grainger (United Kingdom, EC/DA) and Piero Fassino (Italy, SOC), reacted to the outcome of the constitutional referendum held on 16 January 2022:
“We welcome the approval, by 59% of the voters, of the constitutional amendments aimed at reducing political influence in the judiciary, in line with most of the Venice Commission recommendations of December 2021.
This is an important first step and pre-condition towards the depoliticisation of the judiciary and the consolidation of rule of law, a long-standing call by the PACE.
This constitutional referendum – the first since the adoption of the constitution in 2006 – was organised while the country continues to face democratic challenges, notably the absence of a viable opposition in parliament and a polarised political environment, which did not help to build a broad consensus and mobilise society on these fundamental constitutional issues.
We therefore call on the Serbian authorities to further strengthen the independence of the judiciary and trust in the judicial institutions by adopting the necessary secondary legislation. This needs to be based on widespread consultation, and also implementation in good faith, taking into account the recommendations and pending issues highlighted by the Venice Commission, in particular with respect to the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office.
We therefore welcome the constitutional amendments as a first step and encourage the Serbian authorities to continue their efforts towards European integration and compliance with Council of Europe standards”.