Professional staff with integrity has to be in the Judicial Council

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) requests from the new convocation of the Parliament to address the election of members of the Judicial Council, who should be choosen among the prominent attorneys, in a responsible manner.

In that context, the CCE calls upon the President of the Parliament, Aleksa Bečić, to put on agenda the Proposal which Committee for Political System, Judiciary and Administration from the previous, i.e. 26th convocation as early as possible. This proposal failed to get  a 2/3 majority on 30 July 2020, and it needs to be put for the second round voting to end the procedure and to create conditions for conducting new and transparent competition.

The consequences of the rule of one party for more than a decade are complex and it will take a lot of time to put the system on a solid basis and to have independent and professional institutions. Inter alia, one of the consequences was the demotivation of quality candidates who were not close to the ruling majority to apply for important positions in institutions that must require independence, integrity, and expertise. It resulted in negative selection, where the previous ruling majority in the Parliament could make its own decisions on appointments.

Insight into the Proposal made by the previous convocation of the Committee for Political System, Judiciary and Administration indicate that all four candidates cannot be elected as all of them do not even meet the basic requirements of membership in the Judicial Council, if that membership is planned to be done conscientiously and professionally. In particular, we want to point to the public on a biography of the candidate Ibrahim Husejnović and leave for assessment on which basis that Committee recommended him in the category of eminent lawyers for Judicial Council.

According to the law, members of the Judicial Council must be persons of high moral and professional qualities. Hence, it is unclear how legal work performed in education and extremely short experience of one year in a law office, as well as conditional discharge, can be referenced for conducting very complex and strict competencies of Judicial Council.  Also, the reasons for national and gender representation, i.e. the affirmative action that Husejnovic emphasizes in his application, cannot be put in front of high professional qualities and expertise, judicial experience, track record, etc.

The approach of the Committee on Political System, Judiciary and Administration has not been at an adequate level, and it has produced also a number of adverse consequences in practice. Today we have the Judicial Council whose (lack of) expertise European Commission directly put into question within the last few reports. To this should be added the negative assessments of the State Audit Institution (SAI) on financial operations and financial management by the Judicial Council.

Consequently, the CCE appeals to all MPs to address the procedure of selection of four eminent lawyers with due diligence and to complete this competition procedure as soon as possible and announce a new call.

The CCE also expresses hope that changed political circumstances, and the fact that all actors in Parliament, at least declaratively, advocate for unblocking the path to the EU and judicial reform, can encourage more quality candidates to apply, and with that competent Parliamentary working bodies will have a solid selection to make credible  proposal of four candidates amongst prominent lawyers.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior legal advisor