Serbia Fails to Fully Implement Anti-Corruption Recommendations

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO, said in its latest report that Serbia had only partly implemented anti-corruption recommendations that the body made in 2015, adding that the situation is “globally unsatisfactory”. 

“GRECO acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the Serbian authorities since the Interim report in 2019 and notes that several recommendations cannot be fully implemented because of the current parliamentary situation which hinders the adoption of the new Constitution. However, as the vast majority of the recommendations remain partly implemented, GRECO has no choice but to consider the situation as “globally unsatisfactory” and asks the Head of the delegation of Serbia to provide a report on the progress made in implementing the outstanding recommendations by 31 October 2021″, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body said in its new compliance report. 

According to the report, Serbia has implemented satisfactorily only two of GRECO’s 13 recommendations made in 2015 – “those on the interaction of parliamentarians with lobbyists and on strengthening the role of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Ten recommendations have been implemented only partially, and the recommendation on the adoption of the Code of Conduct for parliamentarians have not been implemented at all”, a press release said.   

“The fact that the constitutional reforms are still underway in Serbia, remains an obstacle for implementing a number of GRECO’s recommendations concerning judges and prosecutors”, the press release said adding that GRECO encourages the Serbian authorities “to make sure the constitutional amendments have the broadest base of support possible and that they are in line with GRECO’s recommendations, in particular as regards the composition of the High Judicial Council”. 

The report said that progress had been made on the law drafting process increasing public participation in the process and added that the use of urgent procedure in parliament appears to have decreased but that the use of urgent procedure still leaves the way open to introduce amendments which have not undergone public debate. 

It welcomes the normative framework and the methods to improve the objectivity and transparency of the recruitment of judges and prosecutors and added that the adoption of guidelines for the prevention of undue influence on judges is a step in the right direction, but that the Ethics Committee of the High Judicial Council has not started implementing its mandate on judicial ethics and that the Code of ethics for prosecutors has not been adopted yet. 

GRECO also welcomed the new Law on Corruption Prevention which said improves the rules on conflicts of interest that apply to parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors and provides appropriate guarantees for the independence of the Anti-Corruption Agency. 

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