Serbia has not implemented in a satisfactory manner any of the thirteen recommendations provided by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) to the country in July 2015, according to the new compliance report published today.
GRECO specifically recommended that measures be taken to further improve the transparency of the parliamentary process, including through ensuring adequate timelines for submitting amendments and using the urgent procedure as an exception and not as a rule. A need to introduce transparency regulations on parliamentarians’ contacts with lobbyists and other third parties, given the great risk of undue influence, was underlined.
Only limited progress has been achieved as regards transparency of the activity of the National Assembly, GRECO says in today’s compliance report. More determined action is necessary in this regard, as well as on the adoption of a code of conduct and the introduction of rules for members of parliament on how they interact with lobbyists and other third parties.
Among other recommendations of 2015 were strengthening the independence and role of the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutorial Council; amending the procedures for the recruitment and promotion of judges, court presidents and prosecutors, in particular by excluding the National Assembly from this process and ensuring merit-based recruitment; and continued reform of the system of appraisal of judges’ and prosecutors’ performance.
As far as judges are concerned, in the compliance report GRECO welcomes the measures taken to further develop the role of the High Judicial Council, improve the objectivity and transparency of the procedures for the recruitment and promotion of judges, as well as to train judges on ethical issues. Beyond a necessary constitutional reform in order to change the composition of the High Judicial Council and exclude the National Assembly from the process of recruitment of judges, GRECO expects a review of the system of appraisal of judges’ performance.
Prosecutors are in a situation largely similar to judges. Some steps have been taken to strengthen the role of the State Prosecutorial Council, to review the performance appraisal system for prosecutors and to train them on ethical issues. Further progress is conditioned by the upcoming constitutional reform. GRECO reiterates its call upon the Serbian authorities to review the criteria for the recruitment and promotion of prosecutors.
In view of the above, GRECO concludes that the overall very low level of compliance with the recommendations is "globally unsatisfactory". GRECO therefore asks the Head of the Serbian delegation to provide a report on the progress in implementing all the pending recommendations as soon as possible, but at the latest by 31 October 2018.