The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's monitoring rapporteurs for Serbia have welcomed the outcome of Serbia's referendum regarding amendments to the country's Constitution, underlining that the goal of those changes is to reduce political influence on the judiciary in keeping with the majority of recommendations made by the Venice Commission.
In a joint statement issued late on Jan. 18, co-rapporteurs Ian Liddell-Grainger and Piero Fassino stated that the amendments are "an important step and a pre-condition for the independence of the judiciary and the consolidation of the rule of law,” adding that their confirmation comes in the wake of "a long-standing call from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to bring the [Serbian] constitution into line with Council of Europe standards."
The press release further recalled that the referendum -- the first held since the adoption of the Serbian Constitution in 2006 -- was organized at a time when the country faces democratic challenges, particularly the absence of oppositional representatives in Parliament and a polarized political climate, neither of which contributed to the formation of a wide consensus or the rallying of societies for fundamental constitutional rights.
Liddell-Grainger and Fassino called on the Serbian authorities to further strengthen the independence of the judiciary and faith in judicial institutions by adopting necessary bylaws, taking into account the recommendations and unresolved issues highlighted by the Venice Commission, particularly those pertaining to the independence of the prosecution.
The co-rapporteurs commended the constitutional changes as a positive first step and stated that they encourage the Serbian government to continue its efforts toward Euro-integrations and alignment with Council of Europe standards.