Serbia votes in favour of judicial constitutional amendments –

Serbian citizens voted in a referendum on Sunday to make changes to sections of the constitution dealing with the judicial system.

The referendum question, in which voters circled yes or no, was: “Are you in favor of ratifying the Constitutional Amendment Bill?” If a majority of voters circled yes, the amendments are passed.

According to the results announced late Sunday, 61.84% of voters approved an amendment to the constitution. Voter turnout is estimated at just over 30%.

The constitutional amendment only affects the appointment of judges, and no other part of the constitution will be subject to the referendum. The amendment affects no fewer than 29 articles formulated in 29 amendments.

The relevant articles regulate the election of judges and prosecutors.

According to the government and parliament, they should be changed for two reasons. The first is the EU’s year-long insistence on depoliticizing the appointment of judges, and the other is the belief that citizens can expect greater legal certainty and democratic effects of the rule of law when the judiciary is more independent of the other two.

The majority of the Serbian opposition claims the referendum is illegal, hastily organized and will not depoliticize the judiciary. Many NGOs and legal experts say the changes are a step in the right direction but insufficient and that prosecutors will remain under strong political influence.

The NGO Center for Free and Democratic Elections (CESID) announced that its observers had visited 260 polling stations in 23 municipalities and cities and found irregularities.

CESID said the most common irregularities are “poor organization of the work of electoral councils and family elections in multiple polling stations.” Another common irregularity was “non-compliance with anti-COVID measures,” CESID added.

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