EU for Serbia – Support to the High Judicial Council (HJC)

Project description

Title: EU for Serbia – Support to the High Judicial Council
Commissioned by: Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia
Financier: European Union (EU)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Lead excuting agency: High Judicial Council
Overall term: 2018 to 2020

Context

The achievement and preservation of the independence of judiciary is an imperative for every society. Only such judiciary can provide effective protection of human rights and freedoms, democracy, a just society and a reliable legal system that is trusted not only by its citizens, but also by the environment in which the country exists. The Republic of Serbia is committed to the process of European integration and is aware that the process requires substantial, consistent and fundamental changes in the judiciary, the anti-corruption system and the protection of fundamental rights, both at the normative and the implementation levels. On its road to joining the European Union (ЕU), Serbia was principally guided by the EU acquis. In this sense, Serbia is paying great attention to Chapter 23 (Judiciary and fundamental rights) within the EU Accession Negotiation Process and realises the importance of the wider context for the start of this Project.

In accordance with recommendations from the Screening Report for Chapter 23, Serbia has developed a comprehensive Action Plan, adopted on 27 April 2015. Based on measures and activities the Negotiation Group led by the Ministry of Justice developed the Negotiation Position which became a part of the Common Negotiation Position adopted on 18 July 2016 by the Serbian Government and the European Commission (EC). That document included a comprehensive list of 50 interim benchmarks, under which to measure reform progress. Interim benchmarks were introduced as a novelty in accession negotiations with candidate countries by the 2012 - 2013 Enlargement Strategy outlined by the EC in October 2012. 

As defined by the Article 153 of the Constitution and Article 13 of the Law on High Judicial Council (HJC), the HJC has a decisive role in the process of judicial selection, promotion, discipline, ethics, material status and removal from office, while its other responsibilities include human resources, organisation and oversight, budget, performance measurement, policy and rule-making and operation of courts.

Objective

The programme has contributed to the advancement of Serbia's judicial system and Rule of Law in line with the EU accession requirements by strengthening the independence, accountability and transparency of the judicial system in the Republic of Serbia and ensures the sustainability of results. 

Approach

The project activities designated within the four project components:

Component 1: Strengthen Capacities of the High Judicial Council and Courts
Component 2: Enhance the HJC capacities on financial management/budget planning, reporting and monitoring
Component 3: Improve the mechanism for career development 
Component 4: Strengthening HJC capacities on disciplinary proceedings

All components are interconnected and interrelated to the extent that they are all designed to improve the independence and accountability of the judiciary and thereby to facilitate the administration of justice in a fair, transparent and timely manner and secure the public’s trust and confidence in the judiciary.

Results

Result 1: Organisational structure and working procedures relevant for the execution of duties of the HJC and the administrative control over the work of the courts are constantly improving

  • IT system to establish and implement on-line automated business procedures for the HJC under construction;
  • Analysis of HJC capacities, number of workplaces and vacancies;
  • Draft on an instruction for anonymisation of HJC decisions according to the adopted Rulebook on anonymisastion of HJC decisions

Result 2: Improving a career development mechanism (stemming from appointment procedures) 

  • Training on the competence-based selection process realised

Result 3: HJC staff capacities on financial management/budget planning, reporting and monitoring are constantly improving 

  • Brief analysis on the HJC’s budgetary competences under the current and future regulatory framework developed;

Result 4: HJC's capacities in managing effectively disciplinary proceedings, in line with the relevant bylaw provisions, are improving

  • Training needs Assesment (TNA) in the field of disciplinary responsibility – in the final stage of preparation;  
  • Operational plan of trainings for 1,500 judges for disciplinary responsibility;
  • Training on disciplinary proceedings organised for 50 judges
  • Two-day training for finalising the TNA and for adults learning methodologies (ToT) with regard to the topic disciplinary responsibility of judges.

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