Serbia has satisfactorily implemented eight of the 13 recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) for the prevention of corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors, according to a report released today by the Council of Europe’s body.
GRECO assessed that the general level of compliance with the recommendations is no longer “globally unsatisfactory”.
Eight recommendations were implemented satisfactorily or Serbia acted on them satisfactorily, while five recommendations contained in the Report within the fourth round of evaluation for Serbia were partially implemented.
“As far as MPs are concerned, a satisfactory level of compliance has been achieved with most of the recommendations,” the Second Interim Report on Compliance with GRECO Recommendations states.
The report estimates that the transparency of the legislative process has been further improved and that the use of the urgent procedure has been significantly reduced, “although clearer rules have not yet been introduced to regulate this practice more strictly.”
It is added that the Law on Lobbying is supported by a number of auxiliary secondary acts, as well as training and awareness raising activities.
“By adopting the Code of Conduct for MPs, together with the Guide to the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for MPs, as well as raising awareness and training, a major step forward has been made,” the report said.
When it comes to judges and prosecutors, it is stated that the adoption of constitutional reforms enables the implementation of a larger number of GRECO recommendations.
“Most members of the High Judicial Council (HJC) are now judges elected by their peers, and the membership of executive and legislative representatives ex officio has been abolished,” the report said.
GRECO states that the High School is recognized by the Constitution as an independent body, which guarantees the independence of courts and judges, and that measures have been taken to strengthen the transparency of its activities, but that other measures are needed to ensure its financial independence.
The report notes that the National Assembly continues to participate in the appointment of some members of the State Prosecutors’ Council (DVT), and that the Minister of Justice is still an ex-officio member.
GRECO praised the “normative framework and methods for improving the objectivity and transparency of the recruitment process of judges and prosecutors”.
The system of evaluating the work of judges and prosecutors has been strengthened by introducing quality criteria, and the adoption of the “Guidelines for the Prevention of Inappropriate Influence on Judges” is a “step in the right direction”.
GRECO states that the Higher Ethics Committee has started performing its function in terms of judicial ethics, among other things by appointing a trusted advisor, and praises the adoption of the Code of Ethics for prosecutors.
“The new Anti-Corruption Law, recently amended as recommended by GRECO, as well as relevant manuals and guides for public officials, have improved the rules on conflicts of interest applicable to MPs, judges and prosecutors,” the report said.
GRECO concluded that the overall level of compliance with the recommendations was no longer “globally unsatisfactory” and decided not to apply Rule 32 to Member States found not to comply with the recommendations contained in the Evaluation Report.
The body of the Council of Europe asked the head of the Serbian delegation to submit additional information on the implementation of the remaining five recommendations by March 31, 2023.
The Second Interim Compliance Report assesses the implementation of outstanding recommendations since the adoption of the Second Compliance Report and contains an overall assessment of Serbia’s level of compliance with these recommendations.
In the Second Compliance Report, adopted in October 2020, GRECO concluded that only two recommendations were implemented satisfactorily, while 10 recommendations were partially implemented and one was not implemented.