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Declaration of Medel on the re-appointment procedure of judges and prosecutors in Serbia

Today Dragana Bolijevic, president of the Judges Association of Serbia (JAS) and General Secretary of MEDEL, has seen her appeal against her dismissal from the judiciary rejected by the Serbian High Council for Judiciary.

The dismissal of Dragana Bolijevic occurred within a highly controversial and opaque procedure which involved all Serbian judges and prosecutors in a general re-appointment procedure carried out in 2009 which ended with the dismissal of around one third of them, without any disciplinary ground, without any hearing, and even without any reasoning, simply with the publication of a list with names of judges and prosecutors re-appointed and not re-appointed.

Despite all the warnings of the Council of Europe Venice Commission, the Consultative Council of European Judges, the European Commission, the European Parliament and others, which repeatedly advised Serbian authorities not to carry out such general re-appointment procedure, then to carry it out with appropriate safeguards, then to review it thoroughly and in a transparent manner, such procedure was put in place and conducted in full opacity. The shortcomings of the review procedure were also repeatedly highlighted by all international and independent observers.

Today is a sad day for the independence of the judiciary in Europe, which is not a privilege of judges, but a guarantee for rights and freedoms of citizens. The principles of irremovability of judges, of fairness of disciplinary procedures and of defence are infringed. The principle of rule of law is seriously affected.

MEDEL expresses its solidarity to Dragana Bolijevic, to the Judges’ Association of Serbia and to all Serbian judges and prosecutors affected in their professional dignity and personal life by such an unjust and unfair procedure and will continue to support their efforts for a truly independent and democratic judicial and constitutional system in their country and all across Europe.

Lisbon, 1 June 2012

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