On December 8th 2022, the Ministry of the Interior published a new version of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs, along with draft amendments to five other laws, and initiated a public debate. However, due to strong reactions from the professional public, primarily civil society organizations within the National Convention on the European Union (NKEU), the debate was interrupted, and the Draft was withdrawn from the procedure for the second time.
The controversial Draft Law on Internal Affairs addresses matters of crucial importance for the rule of law and the protection of human rights, serving as a prerequisite for numerous other reforms outlined in Serbia’s EU integration plans. Despite clear recommendations from the European Commission and transitional benchmarks in Chapter 24 concerning police reform, particularly in terms of enhancing operational autonomy and cooperation between the police and the prosecution, these benchmarks are not acknowledged in the Draft, nor does the explanatory text reference Serbia’s obligations outlined in the Action Plan for Chapter 24.
A cause for significant concern is that many problematic articles in this Draft, with minimal linguistic alterations, were retained from last year’s Draft, which was also withdrawn from the procedure following strong public backlash. Furthermore, there are concerns about the manner in which the debate on such a critical law is being conducted for the second time within the legally mandated minimum timeframe, concurrently with numerous discussions on draft legal acts, during holiday periods and amid an increased workload.
In its latest report on Serbia, the European Commission specifically highlighted the issue of brief and insufficient public discussions on laws of significant public interest, emphasizing the necessity of establishing systematic cooperation between civil society organizations and the government.
Aim of the intervention: Contribute to the improvement of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs jobs through the joint actions of CSOs gathered around the work group for Chapter 24 NKEU. These actions are aimed at participating in public discussions, informing the wider public, and creating public pressure on decision-makers.
Target group and main beneficiaries
Members of the Working Group for Chapter 24 NKEU, representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs involved in drafting the Law on General Administrative Procedure, and MPs of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
- Preparation of analyses and proposals for amendments to the Draft Law, which will be presented during consultative meetings with the Ministry of Interior
- Organizing consultative meetings
- Production of media content or media campaigns