This report is the result of the OSCE Mission to Serbia’s (hereinafter: the OSCE Mission) efforts to monitor the peer elections of judges to the High Judicial Council (HJC), conducted from October to December 2020. The Serbian non-governmental organization YUCOM served as an implementing partner in monitoring the election.
Activities included: monitoring the nomination processes in selected courts; monitoring peer elections across Serbia; analysing the underlying legal framework; and interviewing judges who participated in the process. Due to the restraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of monitors was reduced in comparison to the elections in 2015.
The analysis of the international standards governing judicial and prosecutorial councils, as well as of the relevant legal framework in Serbia, is summarized from the last report as they did not undergo any changes since the 2015 report on the Monitoring of the Elections was published.
As hardly any of the Mission’s recommendations from the 2015 report have been addressed, many of the same challenges occurred in the 2020 elections. Therefore, the recommendations remain largely the same:
- Amend the legal framework to change the election process for the HJC so that the role of the National Assembly in the election process is lessened and the HJC remains free from undue external influence;
- Amend the rules and regulations on candidate nomination so that the process of proposing candidates is made clearer;
- Further develop the legal framework to enhance the procedures for the resolution of disputes and to provide effective remedies.
This report aims to inform the ongoing judicial reform process in Serbia and to provide the relevant state institutions and justice stakeholders with an objective assessment and concrete recommendations to further strengthen the independence, accountability and efficiency of the Serbian judiciary.