The OSCE Mission to Serbia provides the Government of Serbia with legal advice and expert assistance in promoting the reform of the Serbian judicial system. In co-operation with the Serbian Ministry of Justice, the High Judicial Council, the State Prosecutors' Council, courts, prosecutors' offices, and professional associations of judges and prosecutors, the Mission supports the implementation of the National Judicial Reform Strategy. The Mission has supported the transformation of the Judicial Training Centre into a fully fledged Judicial Academy. What remains for 2011 is to establish an initial training programme for candidate judges and prosecutors and to establish a mentor system at the Academy.
In 2011 the Mission will provide support to building the capacities of the High Judicial Council and the State Prosecutors' Council, established in 2009, to effectively discharge their duties. The Councils will in 2011 also be key partners to assess the implementation of criminal legislation less than 5 years in place.
The Mission has provided expertise in developing a draft Criminal Procedure Code, which is scheduled to come into force for organized crime and war crimes prosecutions by mid-2011. The Mission will work closely with its partners to assist in the implementation of the new Code.
The Mission provides assistance and support to the Serbian judiciary in raising their capacity to deal with organized crime and other serious crimes. This is done through strengthening the technical skills of selected prosecutors and judges and reinforcing the efficiency and effectiveness of institutions dealing with organized crime cases. As seizure of assets acquired through crime is widely seen as an essential tool in fighting organized crime, the Mission has been promoting the development of asset seizure legislation since 2003. In co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, an asset seizure law, including the management of seized assets was drafted, which came into force in 2009. Subsequently the Mission supported training of judges, prosecutors and police on the new law and facilitated an assessment of implementation challenges. In 2011 the Mission will continue to direct its efforts towards ensuring proper implementation of the asset seizure legislation, in line with international standards. In addition, the Mission will in particular support the development of an efficient system to manage seized assets.
The Mission helps harmonize Serbian legislation and practice with international anti-corruption standards and build the capacity of the authorities to better respect good governance principles, with special emphasis on management of public funds. Activities focus on introducing a certification system for public procurement officers, drafting of guidelines for developing of integrity plans, the establishment of anti-corruption councils at the local level and the introduction of e-procurement.
The Mission's activities are aimed at enhancing the capacity of anti-corruption institutions to perform their duties effectively (Anti-Corruption Agency, Public Procurement Office, State Audit Institution), promoting the implementation of legislation in this area, increasing the efficiency and transparency of public procurement procedures and further strengthening the capacity of Serbian institutions to suppress economic crime. In 2011, further roll out of integrity plans will be supported as well as enhancing the system to detect and prosecute financial crimes. The Mission will continue to support the implementation of the 2005 National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
The Mission has developed a strategy to support the domestic judiciary in conducting war crimes trials as a tool for reconciliation. Since January 2003, it has been monitoring war crimes trials in Serbian courts.
The Mission helped draft the new Law on War Crimes, contributed to witness protection legislation and development of the witness/victim support service in the Belgrade High Court.
Within its capacity building efforts, the Mission continues to support the training of war crimes judges, prosecutors, court services and defence attorneys on various aspects of conducting war crimes investigations and trials in accordance with internationally recognized standards.
As of 2004, jointly with other OSCE field operations, the Mission has been facilitating cross-border judicial co-operation in war crimes proceedings between Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which has been known as the "Palic Process". Furthermore the Mission is fostering co-operation between the Serbian war crimes judges and prosecutors and their counterparts from national courts outside the region, international and 'hybrid' tribunals to enable transfer of knowledge and experience.
The Mission is carrying out, in partnership with the National Council for Co-operation with the ICTY, War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office and the Belgrade High Court War Crimes Department, a public outreach campaign aimed at raising awareness of the Serbian public about the wartime atrocities and increasing support for the prosecution of war crimes perpetrators before the national Court and the ICTY. Such outreach activities include providing information about the ICTY's and domestic institutions’ mandates, ongoing trials and findings and outcomes of such trials. Activities are mainly focused on youth in Serbia – university and high school students, young political party members and activists. Activities include public lectures, press briefings and conferences, study visits, training workshops for journalists, TV debates, video materials, publications, and public opinion polls.
Since its establishment the Mission has been supporting the Serbian Ministry of Justice with prison reform. The focus is placed on reforming legislation, training prison staff at all levels including establishment of a prison staff training centre. The Mission supported Ministry of Justice in harmonizing the Law on Enforcement of Penal Sanctions with international standards, drafting over 15 by-laws crucial for the implementation of the Law, as well as drafting the Law on Special Imprisonment Regime for the Sentenced for Organized Crime.
In 2011, the Mission will continue to assist the Ministry of Justice in further development of alternative sentencing system with special emphasis on establishment of post-penal care for realised prisoners. Also accountability of the prison system is targeted through support to strengthening of external oversight mechanisms.
The Mission has been supporting the establishing of national institutions for the protection of human rights in Serbia since 2001. The provincial Ombudsman of Vojvodina was established in 2002 and the Mission had a prominent role in building its capacity to work efficiently. The Mission also supported creation of a network of local Ombudsperson institutions, established at several cities and municipalities. After the national Ombudsman (Protector of Citizens) was established in 2007, the Mission focused on implementation of a comprehensive programme to support this institution and strengthen its capacity. In 2011, the Mission will focus on supporting the improvements of the institution's structure and communication with the general public.
Another focus of the Mission in 2011 will be to support the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism as prescribed by the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Preventing Torture.
Translating draft and adopted laws allows the Mission's international legal experts to analyse the laws and assess their alignment with international standards. The translated laws are available on the Mission's website (link to the right).