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Newsletter of the Venice Commission
2 / 2015


In this issue


June 2015 plenary session

Decisions of the June plenary

At its 103d session in Venice 19-20 June 2015 the Commission inter alia:

-         Adopted opinions on :

o    the non ultra petita rule in criminal cases - the amicus curiae brief for the Constitutional Court of Georgia;

o    media legislation of Hungary;

o    the citizen's bill on the regulation of public participation, citizens' bills, referendums and popular initiatives and amendments to the provincial electoral law of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy;

o    the amendments to the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan - the joint opinion by the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR;

o    the Law on the People's Advocate of the Republic of Moldova;

o    the Draft law on introducing changes to the Constitution of Ukraine on the immunity of MPs and judges;

o    the Law on Government Cleansing ("Lustration Law") of Ukraine,  as would result from the amendments submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on 21 April 2015 - the final opinion;  

-         Adopted a declaration on interference with judicial independence in Turkey; 

-         Adopted the reports on:

o   restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association of judges, following a request by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;

o   the method of nomination of candidates within political parties previously adopted by the Council for Democratic Elections on 18 June 2015;

o   the preliminary report on exclusion of offenders from Parliament, following a request for assistance by the ad hoc committee of the parliament of Albania;

-         Held an exchange of views with:

o   Mr László Trócsányi, Minister of Justice of Hungary;

o   Ms Natalia Nikitenko, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights, Constitutional Legislation and State Structure of the parliament of Kyrgyzstan;

o   Mr Mihail Cotorobai, People’s Advocate of the Republic of Moldova;

Mr Volodymyr Groysman, Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine and President of the Constitutional Commission, and with Mr Oleksiy Filatov,


(read the synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Hungary  - opinion on media legislation

    On 29 January 2015 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 2035(2015) where it invited the Venice Commission to “identify the provisions which pose a danger to the right to freedom of expression and information through the media, in the Hungarian Act CLXXXV of 2010 on Media Services and Mass Media, in the Hungarian Act CIV of 2010 on the Freedom of the Press and the Fundamental Rules of Media Content, and in the Hungarian tax laws on progressive tax on advertising revenue for media”.

    In 2010 the Hungarian Parliament passed two laws regulating the media sphere: the Media Act (Act CLXXXV of 2010 on Media Services and Mass Media, hereinafter “the Media Act”), restructuring the media regulatory system, and the Press Act (Act CIV of 2010 on the Freedom of the Press and the Fundamental Rules on Media Content, hereinafter the “Press Act”), concerning media content and press regulation. Those laws are often referred to as the “media package”.

    The adoption of the “media package” prompted strong criticism within the country and abroad.

    Key problems outlined by the international bodies and NGOs included the alleged lack of political independence of the Media Council (the regulatory agency), concentration of powers in the hands of the Media Council, unjustifiably high fines for journalists and media outlets, unclear requirements for content regulation, inadequate protection of journalists’ sources, and the government’s control over the public service media.

    (read the summary )


  • Italy - Bill on participation and direct democracy in the province of Trento

    On 5 February 2015, the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers transmitted to the Venice Commission a request by the Provincial Council of the Trento Province for an Opinion on a Citizens' Bill on Public Participation, Citizens' Bills, Referendums and Popular Initiatives and Amendments to the Provincial Electoral Law (CDL-REF(2010)017).

    This Bill under examination (Bill of 19 July 2012, n. 1-328/XIV/XV P, hereafter “the Bill”) is intended to repeal and replace the Provincial “Referendum Law” of 5 May 2003 CDL-REF(2015)016).  It aims at strengthening considerably the pre-existing instruments of participation and direct democracy, and at introducing a whole range of new ones, as stated in the Explanatory Memorandum.

    The opinion deals with the conformity of the Bill with international standards, in particular with the Code of Good Practice on Referendums, drafted by the Venice Commission and supported by the statutory bodies of the Council of Europe (CDL-AD(2007)008rev). It is not intended at assessing its conformity with superior national legislation (national or regional); it will however refer to it when useful.


    (read the summary)  



    Summer 2015

    Venice Commission – Ukraine: Constitutional reform

    Strasbourg / Kyiv – President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio, Secretary of the Commission Thomas Markert and his Deputy Ms Simona Granata-Menghini, and the Commission Member Hanna Suchocka, Kaarlo Tuori, Regina Kiener, George Papuashvili and other member of the Commission actively assisted the Ukrainian authorities in their efforts to reform the constitution.

    Two preliminary opinions - on the decentralisation and on the judiciary - as well as a note on the temporal validity of constitutional transitional provisions were transmitted to the authorities in the course of the summer 2015. These documents will be endorsed by the October plenary session.  

    Opinions on Ukraine

    Georgia - Undue pressure on the Constitutional Court -
    Statement by the President of the Venice Commission


    "Strasbourg - I have learned about pressure being exercised on the judges of the Constitutional Court of Georgia and their families, notably through manifestations and pickets in front of their private homes.

    Learn more

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    Lustration: international conference  - 07/09/2015

    Prague -  The Venice Commission organised, in co-operation with the Institute of International Relations Prague – IRR, a conference on “Past and present-day lustration: similarities, differences, applicable standards”, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

    • Constitutional Justice

    Moldova - International Conference - 24-25/09/2015  

    Chisinau - The Constitutional Court of Moldova and the Venice Commission co-organised the International Conference on "Relations of the Constitutional Court with other public authorities". This Conference was financed by the EU Programme : “Programmatic Cooperation Framework in the Eastern Partnership Countries”.  Programme

    • Elections and Political Parties

    France - Interparliamentary Conference - 04-05/06/2015

    Paris – Venice Commission organises in cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the French National Assembly a conference on the implementation of the right to free elections. The challenge of implementing electoral legislation and compliance with standards of the Council of Europe will be the central issues of the conference.
    Conclusions of the Conference

    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Morocco – launching of the programme UniDem Campus for Mediterranean -14-18/09/2015

    Rabat - The Venice Commission is launching in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Service and Modernisation of the Administration of the Kingdom of Morocco, a legal capacity-building programme for high-level civil servants of the MENA region (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Tunisia), called Project UniDem South Mediterranean.


    Available from the Council of Europe Publishing:

    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2014/3, 2015/1

    Available from the Secretariat:

    • Main reference texts of the Venice Commission (English, French, Arabic)
    • Code of good practice in electoral matters: explanatory report (English, French, Russian, Arabic)
    • Joint OSCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission guidelines on freedom of association (English, French, Arabic)
    • Compilation of joint OSCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission guidelines on fundamental rights (English, French, Arabic)
    • UniDem Campus for the countries of Southern Mediterranean ( English, French, Arabic)
  • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issues 2015/2 and 2015/3
  • Compilation of joint ODCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission guidelines on fundamental rights (Arabic)



            Armenia - constitutional reform;

           Bosnia and Herzegovina - draft law on Ombudsman;

              Georgia - draft amendments to the Law on Prosecutor's Office;

              Kyrgyzstan - Rules of procedure of the Constitutional Chamber;

              Montenegro - draft amendments to the Law on Minority Rights and Freedoms and to the Law on Freedom of Religion;

              Russia - Law on undesirable organisations;

              Tunisia - draft law on the Constitutional Court; institutional aspects of the draft law on the specific Committee dealing with the reconciliation process;

              Turkey - Law on internet and selected articles of the Penal Code;

              Ukraine - draft constitutional changes on decentralisation, on judiciary; temporal validity of transitional provisions; draft law on "integrity testing", draft law on amendments to the legislation concerning political corruption; law on condemnation of communist and Nazi regimes.



    Electoral issues

    • Guidelines on the use of administrative resources during elections

    • Electoral lists and voters abroad

    Democratic institutions and fundamental rights

    • Rule of law - check list

    • Ombudsman institution

    • Freedom of peaceful assembly - joint OSCE/ODIHR-Venice Commission guidelines

    • Exclusion of offenders from Parliament


    • Constitutional amendment

    Link to the calendar of upcoming events

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