The draft law on legal aid is unclear and some parts of it are even unconstitutional, experts who took part in a round table said adding that despite shortcomings it’s good that the law is a step away from being passed in the Serbian parliament.
The round table was organized by the Working Group of the National Convent on the European Union (NKEU) for chapter 23 (judiciary and basic rights) in Serbia’s pre-accession negotiations with the EU.
The problem is that the law is unclear, especially in the parts about the providers of free legal aid, Katarina Golubovic of the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights said. She said that under the law, NGOs can provide free legal aid but have been left outside the state financing system and recalled that the law was supposed to set limits for organizations financed from the state budget.
Lawyer Aleksandar Cvejic, secretary of the Serbian Bar Association, told the gathering that lawyers are not happy with some parts of the draft law. “The draft law includes some articles which we could say run counter to the constitution, but lawyers have turned a blind eye for the sake of peace at home and to get things moving,” he said.
The editor in chief of the whistle-blower web site Pistaljka said organizations like his could not get started without legal aid. “I see no reason why specialized organizations which engage lawyers have been ecluded from this law,” Vladimir Radomirovic said.