Newsletter of the Venice Commission


 1 / 2012


In this issue:


·                     Highlights of the December 2011 session

·                     Selected events

·                     Publications

·                     Forthcoming activities


·                     Venice Commission website

·                     Council of Europe portal

·                     CODICES database

·                     Council of Europe on Facebook

·                     Previous newsletters

december 2011 plenary session


All decisions of the December plenary

Meeting room of the Venice Commission

At its 89th plenary session on 16-17 December 2011,
the Commission

- adopted opinions on inter alia the following issues:

·         the electoral law and the electoral practice in Albania (jointly with the OSCE/ODIHR), requested by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe;

·         the draft Law on amendments and additions to the law on alternative service and the draft law on the Legal regime of state of emergency of Armenia;

·         Amendments to the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Political Parties;

·       the draft law on Internal Affairs of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the draft law on Internal Affairs of the Sarajevo Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina;

·        the draft Election Code of Georgia  and the draft Law on Amendments and Additions to the Organic Law of Georgia on Political Unions of Citizens (both opinions jointly with the OSCE/ODIHR);

·       the amendments and additions to the Law on the Constitutional Court of Serbia;

·         the draft Law on Principles of the State language policy of Ukraine;

-    Held an exchange of views with:

·        Ms Jozefina Topalli, Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, Mr Ilirjan Rusmali, Chairman of the Committee for Legal Issues, Public Administration and Human Rights of the Parliament and with Mr Damian Gjiknuri, Member of Parliament;

·        Mr Gevorg Kostanyan, Military prosecutor of the Republic of Armenia;

·        Mr Tahir Suleymanov, Deputy Director, Department of Public-Political Issues, Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan;

·        Mr Akaki Minashvili, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia and Mr Otar Kakhidze, Head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia,

·         Ms Szenana Malovic, Minister of Justice of Serbia; ...

 (read synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Albania - electoral law and electoral practice

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (24 August 2011) requested an opinion of the Venice Commission on the question of which improvements should be made to electoral legislation and practice in Albania in the light of recent experience - in particular the 8 May 2011 local elections.

The opinion focuses in particular on issues which appear problematic in the light of what happened during the last local elections, by addressing for example the politicisation of the election administration and its decision-making procedures, the deadline for changes to the electoral list, the order of counting of ballots and the issue of miscast ballots.

(read the summary)

  • Azerbaijan – amendments to the law on political parties

On 26 May 2011 the Venice Commission was requested by the authorities of Azerbaijan to prepare an opinion on the draft amendments to the law on political parties prepared by the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The opinion assesses the draft law in the light of the relevant international and regional instruments and standards, in particular:
         the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides for the freedom of association, as the foundation of political parties,
         the European Convention on Human Rights which also guarantees the right to associate,
·         the extensive case-law of the European Court of Human Rights which establishes important benchmarks in this field, including on the question of financing of political parties.

(read the summary)

  • Georgia - draft amendments to electoral legislation 

The Venice Commission at its last plenary session adopted two opinions concerning Georgia, namely on:

  • a draft new Election Code and
  • draft amendments and additions to the Law on Political Unions of Citizens.

The Commission held an exchange of views with representatives of Georgian national authorities, i.e. First Vice-Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Mr M. Machavariani, who earlier this year requested the two opinions on the compliance of the above-mentioned draft legislation with international standards and best practices; Mr A. Minashvili (MP) and Mr O. Kakhidze (Ministry of Justice).

 (read the summary)





  • European Parliament  - Venice Commission

Recently the European Parliament held an exchange of views with representatives of the Venice Commission on the election of the Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, recent constitutional developments in Hungary, on fundamental freedoms and the new Constitution in Turkey and on the situation in the Southern Mediterranean, in particular on the post-electoral situation in Tunisia.

Link to the EP site

  • Situation in Hungary - Council of Europe action - eight laws to be examined

On 11 January 2012 the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi inviting the Hungarian authorities to request the Venice Commission to provide opinions on laws relevant for the independence of the judiciary, religious freedom and elections to Parliament. He also invited Hungary to request the expertise of the Council of Europe on the media law. The Venice Commission (on 2.01.2012) and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Hammemberg (on 12.01.12) also expressed their concern to the Hungarian authorities concerning inter alia the changes to the judicial system including the removal of the President of the Supreme Court.

On 20 January 2012 Mr Martonyi replied to the Secretary General promising to request the Venice Commission's opinion on the three controversial laws. Shortly afterwards the Venice Commission received confirmation of the request. On 25 January the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked the Venice Commission to analyse five more cardinal laws: on freedom of information, the Constitutional court, prosecution, nationalities and family protection.

Link to the Council of Europe file "Hungary: legislative changes threaten democracy and human rights"

Link to the Commission's opinion on the new Hungarian Constitution (June 2011)

  • Elections in the Venice Commission

At its December 2011 session the Commission elected the following members for the term of 2 years:

  • as President of the Commission  - Mr Gianni Buquicchio (Italy);
  • as First Vice-President and Chair of the Scientific Council - Mr Jan Helgesen (Norway); as Vice-Presidents - Ms H. Suchocka (Poland) and Mr K. Tuori (Finland);
  • as members of the Bureau -  Mr N. Esanu (Moldova), Mr G. Mendes (Brazil), Mr E. Tanchev (Bulgaria) and Mr V. Zorkin (Russian Federation);
  • as the chairs of the sub-commissions:

•         Ms H. Thorgeirsdottir (Iceland) (Fundamental Rights);

•         Mr W. Hoffmann-Riem (Germany) (Federal State and Regional State);

•         Mr V. Dimitrijevic (Serbia) (International Law);

•         Mr J. Velaers (Belgium) (Protection of Minorities);

•         Ms F. Flanagan (Ireland) (Judiciary);

•         Mr P. Paczolay (Hungary) (Democratic Institutions);

•         Mr U. Mifsud Bonnici (Malta) (External Relations);

•         Mr J.S. Sorensen (Denmark) (Working methods);

•         Ms M. C. Alanis Figueroa (Mexico) (Latin America);

•         Mr A. Menouni (Morocco) (Mediterranean Basin);

•         Mr. C. Grabenwarter (Austria) (Joint Council on Constitutional Justice);

•         Mr J.-C. Colliard (France) as Vice-President of the Council for Democratic Elections.


·           Link to recent Venice Commission documents


·           Selected activities since the October 2011 session

  • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

17 - 18/11/2011
Montenegro - Meetings in the framework of the constitutional reform process  

Podgorica – upon the request of the Montenegrin Parliament's Speaker, a Venice Commission delegation participated in the discussions on the constitutional reform conducted in the judicial field in Montenegro

In the photo: meeting between the Venice Commission delegation, representatives of the EU and the Montenegrin authorities.

  • Constitutional, Ordinary Justice and Ombudsmen 

27 - 29/10/2011
Russia - 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court  

Moscow / Saint Petersburg - The President of the Venice Commission G. Buquicchio participated in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

In the photo: President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio and Presidents of Constitutional courts.

  • Elections, Referendums and Political Parites

24 - 25/10/2011
Albanie - visite - préparation d'avis - questions électorales  
Tirana - Une délégation de la Commission de Venise, en collaboration avec des experts du Bureau pour les Institutions Démocratiques et des Droits de l'Homme de l'OSCE (OSCE/ BIDDH) s’est rendue à Tirana les 24 et 25 octobre 2011 pour des échanges de vues avec les autorités nationales et d’autres parties concernés sur la législation et la pratique électorales en Albanie.


Sur la photo: la délégation de la Commission de Venise - OSCE / BIDDH avec le Premier ministre d'Albanie, Sali Berisha.

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

22 - 23/11/2011
Central Asia - Round table on the electoral law of Tajikistan  

Dushanbe - The Venice Commission in co-operation with the Judicial Training Centre to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tajikistan organised for staff of Central and Regional Elections Commissions a Round table on the development and improvement of the electoral system of Tajikistan and international standards of elections.

More information about the Initiative

·         Calendar of recent and current events




Available now from the Council of Europe Publishing:

Series " Science and technique of democracy" 



  • 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)





  • Belarus - Law on mass events;
  • Hungary - Laws on the judiciary, religious freedom and the elections to the Parliament.
  • Russian Federation - Law on the Federal Security Service, notably amendments of 2010 concerning powers of investigation officers;
  • Russian Federation - Law on meetings, rallies, marches and pickets  - provisions allowing for the refusal to authorise demonstrations;
  • Russian Federation - Law on counteraction to extremist activities - definition of “extremism” and the means which are at the disposal of the authorities to counteract any activity considered as “extremist”;
  • Russian Federation - Law on political parties, notably the April 2011 judgment of the ECHR, as well as the recent non-registration of the People’s Freedom Party;
  • Russian Federation - Law on election of the deputies of the State Duma.


   Electoral issues

·         Use of administrative resources during electoral campaign;

·         Consecutive terms in office as well as the limitation of the possibility to simultaneously hold mandates at different levels of power;

·         Criteria for standing for local and regional elections;

·         Measures to improve the democratic character of elections in the Council of Europe member states.


   Democratic institutions and fundamental rights


  • Extra-institutional actors in the democratic system


  • Freedom of religion - joint OSCE - VC revised guidelines


  • Freedom of assembly                                   
  • Ordinary justice                                            

Link to the calendar of forthcoming meetings


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