“Judges and Prosecutors under Pressure of Authorities”

In its 4th Report on the state in the judicial system the Anti-Corruption Council lists on 27 pages the core problems of Serbia’s judicial system due to which the Council finds it dependent and inefficient.

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Jelisaveta Vasilic, member of the Council, said at the press conference that findings and recommendations in the Report had been sent to the Government of Serbia at the end of March but no reply had come from either the Government or the Ministry of Justice.

The Council finds constant pressure of the executive power on the judicial system as one of the biggest problems: through media appearance, commenting pending cases, the Prime Minister’s announcing intense activities, allegations about very strong evidence by the Minister of Interior Affairs and promoting lie detector testing as the most important evidence.

“Each and every statement like that is an instruction and warning about what and how prosecutors and judges must act in order to please those in the executive power since their existence depends on them”, says the Report.

The Council illustrates political influences by instances when “the Prime Minister dubs Miroslav Miskovic a criminal” and some other cases.

Miodrag Majic, Judge of the Appellate Court in Belgrade, shared his experience about apathy and fear existing in the judicial system. He thinks that these are caused by the fact that the majority of honest judges “are fed up with it all” because they know that tabloids and affairs are in store if they took any step opposite to the mainstream.

He illustrates the processed cases of intimidation by the case of Vladimir Vucinic, former President of the Special Court in Belgrade, who chaired the court chamber in the proceedings against Miroslav Miskovic. After his decision to return Miskovic’s passport temporarily, Judge Vucinic was under pressure to reverse his decision. Namely, the President of the Higher Court in Belgrade threatened to dismiss him from the position of the President of the Department and send him back to ordinary criminal cases.

The Council claims that such examples indicate that presidents of different courts “only execute what they are told by politicians” and asks “whether our country should have courts and prosecutor’s offices if we have both executive and legislative powers which press charges, conduct proceedings, present evidence, evaluate it and then makes court awards”.

According to Jelisaveta Vasilic, the judicial system will be dependent, intimidated and inefficient as long as the executive power treats it with disrespect, vilification and intimidation.

In its Report the Council says that Serbia adopts bad laws which are difficult to execute and frequently amended. For example, the Law on Judges has been changed as many as 12 times in the five-year period, which clearly indicates that it has been written by inexperienced or insufficiently professional people who cannot harmonize laws with real life.

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