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We are addressing this letter to you, as the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, but also to Mr. Vladimir Marinkovic, who chaired the Fourteenth Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly on July 16, 2019 with the intent to indicate to the serious abuses of the rights of the members of the Assembly clearly set forth in the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly and the violation ofthe Constitution and laws of the Republic of Serbia.

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The House of Human Rights and Democracy strongly condemns statements of the representatives of the executive and legislative authorities directed against Judge Miodrag Majic at the session of the National Assembly, as an attempt to undermine the professional integrity and independence of a judge for expressing his expert opinion. Contesting the independence and expertise of a judge and retaliation due to exercising his, guaranteed by the Constitution, rights to freedom of expression and association is unacceptable in a democratic society.

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In a letter, published today, that the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights addressed on May 7, 2019, to the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Serbia, Nela Kuburovic, the authorities have been recalled to reconsider the Draft law introducing a sentence of lifelong imprisonment eligibility for conditional release for persons convicted of some of the gravest crimes.

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The House of Human Rights and Democracy condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of Belgrade police during their securing of the “1 of 5 million” rallies on Saturday and Sunday. Preventing disorder and protecting people and property are the primary tasks of police when it comes to securing public assemblies. Their inadequate assessment of the predictable security risk posed by protesters entering the RTS building, as well as the lack of a timely reaction, contributed to the escalation of violence. Therefore, the subsequent use of force by the police, which participants of the rally have been recorded and published, can be deemed disproportionate.

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On the occasion of one year since the beginning of the implementation of the Agreement on Judiciary concluded within the Brussels Dialogue of Belgrade and Prishtina, the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights YUCOM from Belgrade and the Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture ACDC from Mitrovica, invite the authorities in Belgrade and Prishtina to act responsibly regarding the implementation of undertaken obligations and introduce the implementation reporting.

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Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM informs the public that on Friday, November 2nd, the first criminal verdict was reached, where, imposing a sentence on a criminal offense, a hate crime, as a special aggravating circumstance, was taken into account.

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Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM and the civil society organizations listed below, have expressed concern about the solutions contained in the Draft Law on Free Legal Aid.  This is problematic seeing that this Law can directly affect the right to a balanced and equal access to justice for all people who are in need of it.

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Our organisations, committed to rule of law values, have always advocated the exclusion of any undue influence on the judiciary and the improvement of the quality of the national judiciary, with a view to achieving the standards of quality, efficient and accountable judicial systems and the full separation of powers. We therefore applaud the publication of the draft version of the constitutional amendments by the Justice Ministry, hoping that it will initiate a genuine and substantial public debate among the representatives of the government, judicial profession and the NGO sector.

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