Newsletter of the Venice Commission


 autumn 2011

In this issue:



OCTOBER 2011 plenary session

All decisions of the October plenary

Meeting room of the Venice Commission

At its 88th plenary session on 14-15 October 2011,
the Commission

- adopted opinions on inter alia following issues:

-   was informed on follow-up to the opinions on

o        the Draft Law on languages in Ukraine;

o        the new Constitution of Hungary;

o       the draft law on amendments to the law on election of councillors and members of Parliament of Montenegro (jointly with the OSCE/ODIHR);

-   was informed

o     by Dr Yahia El-Gamal, former Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt, on the reform process taking place in that country and by Mr Farouk Sultan, President of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, on the Conference on constitutional drafting to be organised with the Supreme Constitutional Court in January 2012 ;

o     on recent constitutional developments in Morocco, in Romania and in Tunisia;

o     on the Conference on the rule of law to be jointly organised with the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and to be held in March 2012 in the framework of the United Kingdom Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers;

 (read synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Ukraine -  elections of MPs

It is an established principle that legislation regulating fundamental rights such as the right to genuine and free elections should be adopted openly, following public debate, and with broad support in order to ensure confidence and trust in electoral processes. However, during the meetings with the representatives of some political parties and civil society in Kyiv in September 2011, the delegation of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR was informed that the initial phase of work on the project lacked transparency and inclusiveness.

The draft law concerns only the elections for parliament in Ukraine. It, therefore, does not meet the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 1755 (Paragraph 7.1.1) of 10 October 2010 and the OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission long-standing recommendation that all electoral rules should be codified in a single Election Code to ensure that uniform procedures are applied to all elections.

(read the background, the executive summary and the conclusions)

  • Freedom of assembly - Georgia, Ukraine

Basing itself on the Guidelines for Peaceful Assembly jointly adopted by the Commission with the OSCE/ODIHR (2nd edition, 2010), the Commission in both opinions stresses two main ideas. Firstly, the right to peaceful assembly should not be interpreted restrictively and any restrictions should be construed narrowly, and that in general, rights must be “practical and effective” not “theoretical or illusory”. Secondly, the effective guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly depends on the manner in which the legislation is implemented. The presumption in favour of assemblies will need to become a part of the legal culture and influence the use by the executive authorities and by the law-enforcement agencies of the discretionary powers which the amendments confer upon them.   
(read the summaries)

  • Freedom of association - Belarus, Azerbaijan

The Venice Commission points out that the way in which the national legislation enshrines freedom of association and its practical application by the authorities reveals the state of the democracy of the country concerned. Consequently, any restriction of this right must meet strict tests of justification. It is protected under Article 22 of the ICCPR and Article 11 of the ECHR.

 (read the summaries)

  • Peru - crimes against humanity

The case before the Constitutional Court of Peru concerns the qualification of crimes against humanity and statutory limitations, as in the specific case, it is discussed whether it is possible to prosecute those crimes taking into account that domestic legislation establishes limitations to prosecution. Three questions were asked to the Commission:

a.      What case-law has been issued on crimes against humanity by other courts and constitutional equivalent bodies?

b.       How have crimes against humanity been defined and established?

c.      Apart from this case-law, what type of facts have been considered as constituting crimes against humanity?

  (read the summary)

  • WCCJ - entry into force of the Statute

With the accession of 30 Courts from at least three regional or linguistic Groups, the Statute of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (WCCJ) entered into force on 24 September 2011. The final draft of the Statute of the WCCJ was approved by the Bureau of the World Conference in Bucharest in May 2011. On 16 November 2011 40 courts had formally joined the Conference.

Site of the World Conference - list of members, text of the statute, etc

  • Tunisia - elections of the Constituent Assembly

Prior to the elections of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia of 23 October 2011, the Commission organised in July a training session on electoral disputes for the Administrative Tribunal judges and in September another session for the members of the Bar association of Tunisia. On 8 October 2011 the Venice Commission also took part in an awareness raising activity for persons in charge of polling stations for the elections to the Tunisian Constituent Assembly in North-Eastern France. Also in October the Commission participated in the pre-electoral and the observation missions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to Tunisia, acting as a legal advisor to the 40 members of the PACE election observation delegation.

Link to the Council of Europe and Arab spring file

  • Ukraine - election of the Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada

Following the adoption of the opinion on the election of the Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine at the October 2011 session, Thomas Markert, Secretary of the Commission, gave an interview to the Euractiv, explaining the Commission's position regarding this question and commenting on the recent developments in the country.

Link to the interview

  • New member State of the Commission

Following the request of the Kazakh authorities on 11 October 2011, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe invited Kazakhstan to join the Venice Commission on 9 November 2011.

List of accessions to or other participations in the Venice Commission

  •   Selected activities since June 2011 session


(photo: Ukrinfo)

  • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

21 - 23/09/2011
Ukraine – the Venice Commission’s discussions on the elections of MPs legislation  

Kyiv – a delegation of the Venice Commission travelled to Kyiv from 21 to 23 September 2011 to exchange views on the draft law on the elections of MPs in Ukraine which was sent for opinion to the Commission by the Minister of Justice Mr O. Lavrynovych earlier this year. During the visit the delegation met the Minister of Justice, representatives of the working group drafting the law, representatives of the different political forces and of the civil society as well as foreign ambassadors and representatives of different international organisations.

At the press conference at the end of the visit, the Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert thanked the Ukrainian authorities for their willingness to discuss the Venice Commission’s
preliminary remarks. He also welcomed their readiness to review the text of the draft law.

  • Constitutional, Ordinary Justice and Ombudsmen 

24 - 26/06/2011
Georgia – 15th anniversary of the Constitutional Court
Batumi - Conference on "The Past and the Future of the Constitutional Review in New Democracies" on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, organised by the Court in co-operation with the GIZ and the Venice Commission.

On the photo: President of Georgia, President of the Court and President of the Commission

  • Elections and Referendums 

15 - 16/09/2011

Tunisia - Elections - Pre-electoral Mission of the PACE

Tunis - At the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission ensured legal assistance to the Pre-electoral Mission of the Assembly in the context of the forthcoming election of a National Constituent Assembly on 23 October 2011.

On the photo: electoral poster issued by the Tunisian High Independent Authority for the Elections

  • European Union's Initiative for the Rule of Law in Central Asia 

13 - 14/09/2011

Regional Conference "Administrative Law: current situation and perspectives for reform"  
Tashkent - The Venice Commission in co-operation with the Research Centre to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan organised a Regional conference for legal professionals from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as experts from several European countries to share knowledge on different aspects of the administrative law.

This activity was organised in co-operation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the French Embassy in Uzbekistan.

More information about the Initiative


Available now from the Council of Europe Publishing: 

  • Bulletin on Constitutional Case-Law and CD-Rom - No 2010/3


Brochures available from the Secretariat of the Venice Commission :

  • Code of Good practice in electoral matters (Arab version)

  • Revised Statute of the Venice Commission (bilingual)


Selected studies and reports (English, French)

"What is the Venice Commission?" (English, French, Russian)

"The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe" (English, French, Russian)



  • Albania - electoral law and practice;

  • Armenia – electoral law; state of emergency;

  • Azerbaijan - political parties;  

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina - police, internal affairs;

  • Georgia – draft new electoral code; political parties;

  • Serbia - law on the Constitutional Court;

  • Ukraine - law on state languages.


   Electoral issues

  • Use of administrative resources during electoral campaign


   Democratic institutions and fundamental rights


  • Extra-institutional actors in the democratic system (lobbying)

  • Freedom of religion - joint OSCE - VC revised guidelines


  • Freedom of assembly                                   

  • Ordinary justice                                            

  • Ombudsmen 

Link to the calendar of forthcoming meetings

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