Serbia will be probably given an extended deadline to fulfil GRECO’s recommendations from 2015, said Marin Mrcela, head of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) at the Council of Europe.
“The procedure that GRECO has launched in relation to Serbia is not a special but regular procedure that is instigated anytime a country fails to implement the recommendations of the GRECO”, Mrcela said, who is also a Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court of Croatia.
“Serbia is, unfortunately, one of the countries that have not done much in this respect,” he added.
It was assessed in May this year that Serbia regressed in fighting corruption, and has only partially implemented six of the 13 recommendations.
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GRECO President also said that the official Belgrade was expected to send additional documents by October 31st.
“The recommendations regarding Serbia require amendments to the Constitution because it is necessary to keep the National Parliament out of the appointment of judges and prosecutors. That’s the standard. Legislative and executive authorities must not be influential in that degree that they are now in this matter,” Mrcela said adding that the amendments would hopefully take place in the near future.
Serbia has actually failed in meeting any of the 13 recommendations that the GRECO gave back in 2015.
In its annual report for 2017, GRECO warned that, in the case of Serbia, there was a “decline in the fight against corruption”. Due to the non-implementation of the recommendations of this body, certain proceedings against Serbia have been initiated. In addition to Serbia, the same proceedings were also launched against Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey.
In 2015, GRECO recommended that Serbia should take measures to further improve the transparency of the parliamentary process, which includes determining precise deadlines for filing amendments and using an emergency parliamentary procedure as an exception rather than a rule.
MPs’ contacts with lobbyists and third parties should be more transparent, due to the high risk of unauthorized influence.
Other recommendations include boosting 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 Parliament from this process and ensuring merit-based recruitment; and continued reform of the system of appraisal of judges’ and prosecutors’ performance.
Although some steps have been taken, such as the drafting Constitutional Amendments on the Judiciary or the Draft Law on Lobbying, these proposed solutions have been criticized by the relevant stakeholders with the controversy surrounding the draft constitutional amendments on the judiciary continuing.
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