Newsletter of the Venice Commission


 3 / 2012


In this issue:


·         Highlights of the June 2012 session

·         Selected events

·         Publications

·         Forthcoming activities


·         Venice Commission website

·         Council of Europe portal

·         CODICES database

·         Council of Europe on Facebook

·         Previous newsletters



june 2012 plenary session



All decisions of the June plenary

Meeting room of the Venice Commission

At its 91st plenary session on 15-16 June 2012,
the Commission

-       Held an exchange of views with Mr Verherstraeten and Mr Wathelet, State Secretaries for Institutional Reforms of Belgium, and adopted the opinion on the revision of the Constitution of Belgium;

-         Held an exchange of views with Mr Robert Repassy, Minister of State for Justice of Hungary, and adopted the opinions on:

o      the Act on the Election of Members of Parliament of Hungary;
the Act on the Rights of Nationalities of Hungary;
the Act on the Prosecution Service of Hungary and on the Act on the Status of the Prosecutor General, Prosecutors and other Prosecution employees and the Prosecution career, previously examined by the Sub-Commission on the Judiciary on 14 June 2012;
the Act on the Constitutional Court of Hungary;

-         Held an exchange of views with Mr Igor Kapyrin, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe and with Mr Vladimir Zimin from the Office of the Prosecutor General, and adopted the opinion on the Federal Law of the Russian Federation on the Federal Security Service (FSB);

-         Held an exchange of views with Mr Kapyrin, Ms Natalia Polyakova from the Office of the Prosecutor General and Mr Alexander Kurmaz from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and adopted the opinion on the Federal Law of the Russian Federation on Combating Extremist Activity;

-          adopted the opinions on 

•           legal certainty and the independence of the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
amendments to the Act on Primary Education of the Sarajevo Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the amicus curiae brief);
the draft Law on free access to information of Montenegro;


 (read synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Russia - Federal Laws on FSB and extremism

On 16 December 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe requested opinions from the Venice Commission on five Russian Federation Laws, including laws on the FSB and on combating extremist activity.

The Venice Commission stressed that the protection and respect of fundamental rights represents an essential condition for the operation of security services as part of a democratic society and requires solid and specific guarantees.

The Venice Commission stated that it was of crucial importance that, in a law such as the Extremism Law, which has the capacity of imposing severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms, a consistent and proportionate approach that avoids all arbitrariness be taken.

(read the summary of the opinions)

  • Hungary - Laws on rights of nationalities and on elections of MPs

On 20 January 2012, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary requested the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for an opinion on several pieces of legislation recently revised, notably Act CCIII on the Elections of Members of Parliament of Hungary (official translation into English received by diplomatic channels on 7 March 2012; CDL-REF(2012)003). Following this request, the Venice Commission and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) prepared an opinion on the Act.

On 1 February 2012, the President of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked the Venice Commission to provide an opinion on the Act on the Rights of Nationality of Hungary (CDL-REF(2012)014).

(read the summary)

  • Belgium - Revision of the constitution 

On 23 April 2012, after members of a political party belonging to the opposition brought the matter to the attention of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked the Venice Commission to provide an opinion on the recent constitutional amendment procedure in Belgium, more particularly concerning the amendment to Article 195 of the Constitution relating to the revision of the Constitution.

In the Constitution promulgated on 7th February 1831 the constituent power created a decentralised and unitary State in Belgium. This form of State existed until 1970 when a gradual and comprehensive State reform started. The present amendment of the Constitution was aimed at opening the way for the sixth stage of the State reform that should also contribute to the solution of the governmental and political crisis in the country.

(read the summary)





Meeting of a delegation of the Venice Commission and a delegation of
the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (Venice, 15 June 2012)

A joint meeting took place in Venice on 15 June 2012 between a delegation of the Venice Commission and a delegation of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (NCA), composed of:

  • Mr Larbi ABID, First Vice-President,
  • Mr Habib KHEDHER, General Rapporteur on the Constitution,
  • Ms Farida LABIDI, President of the Constitutional Committee on Rights and Liberties,
  • Mr Amor CHETOUI, President of the Constitutional Committee on Legislative and Executive powers and the relations between the two,
  • Mr Mohamed Elarbi Fadhel MOUSSA, President of the Constitutional Committee on Ordinary, Administrative, Financial and Constitutional Justice,
  • Mr Jamel TOUIR, President of the Constitutional Committee on Constitutional Bodies,
  • Mr Imed HAMMAMI, President of the Constitutional Committee on local and regional self-government bodies

and accompanied by Mr Mouldi AYARI, Advisor to the NCA and Liaison officer between the Venice Commission and the NCA.
Several topics were the object of exchanges of views and experiences. The following topics were discussed in particular:

  • the powers of the President of the Republic in a rationalised parliamentarism;
  • the techniques of semi-direct democracy;
  • the catalogue of constitutionally protected fundamental right and freedoms: general clauses vs. a detailed list;
  • the constitutional guarantees against disproportionate restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms;
  • the need for an independent institution for the protection of human rights;
  • the need and models of constitutional justice;
  • forms of consultation of the civil society in the preparation of the constitution;
  • direct or indirect elections of the heads of the regional self-government units.

It was agreed to pursue this fruitful co-operation, notably through exchanges of views and hearings by the National Constituent Assembly, to take place in Tunisia as soon as possible. Meetings were already scheduled on justice matters and on local self-government. The topic of advantages and disadvantages of different constitutional systems would be discussed in Tunis in early July.

·         Link to recent Venice Commission documents


·           Selected activities since the March 2012 session

  • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

Russia - Venice Commission’s opinions on laws on FSB and extremism - consultative meeting
Paris - At the request of the Chair of the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, the Venice Commission is currently finalising its legal assessment of the above-mentioned laws. The two draft opinions were be submitted for adoption to the Venice Commission’s 91st plenary meeting in June 2012.In the photo: meeting between the Venice Commission delegation and the Russian authorities.

  • Constitutional, Ordinary Justice and Ombudsmen 

Meeting of the Bureau of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice

Venice - The WCCJ Bureau met on 16 June 2012 in Venice to discuss, inter alia, the report on the membership of the WCCJ, the financial report regarding contributions to the WCCJ, the relationship between WCCJ and bilateral agreements concluded between regional and linguistic groups and the Venice Commission and the choice of its logo. The Bureau appointed Schnutz Dürr, Head of the Constitutional Justice Division of the Venice Commission, as Secretary of the WCCJ.

In the photo: participants of the meeting of the WCCJ Bureau

  • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties

04/06/2012 - 05/06/2012
Electoral issues - 9th European Conference of the EMBs  

Tallinn – The Venice Commission, jointly with the Central Election Commission of Estonia, organised the 9th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies.

In the photo:  President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio addressing the Conference

  • Joint programmes with the European Union for Central Asia

03 - 05/07/2012
Kazakhstan - Study visit of the electoral officials to Austria  
Vienna - A study visit for staff of the Central and Regional electoral commissions of Kazakhstan to the Department on electoral affairs of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Austria took place on 3-5 July 2012.

The participants had an opportunity to learn about the work of the Austrian authorities in the electoral field as well as to visit a municipal electoral authority in Vienna and the Parliament.

This activity was organised in the framework of a joint project "Support to the election process in Kazakhstan" funded by the European Union and implemented by the Venice Commission.

·         Calendar of recent and current events




Available now from Council of Europe Publishing:

  • Bulletin on Constitutional Case-Law and CODICES DVD - No 2011/2


Available for free now from the Secretariat:

  • Selected studies and reports (English, French)"
  • "What is the Venice Commission?" (English, French)

Forthcoming leaflet:

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





  • Azerbaijan - freedom of religion;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina - conflict of interest;
  • Hungary - access to information; constitutional transitional provisions; amendments to the laws on judiciary;
  • Mexico - electoral legislation;
  • Montenegro - constitutional reform (judiciary); relations between the state and church;
  • Romania - "compatibility with constitutional principles and the rule of law of actions taken by the government and the Parliament of Romania in respect of other state institutions"; amendments to the laws on the Constitutional Court and on the organisation of a referendum;
  • Russian Federation - amendments to the law on meetings and demonstrations;
  • Ukraine - Draft laws on the prosecutors office.


   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.


   Democratic institutions and fundamental rights


  • Extra-institutional actors in the democratic system (lobbying);
  • Freedom of religion - joint OSCE/VC revised guidelines;
  • Keeping political and criminal responsibility separate.


  • Ordinary justice                                            


·         Link to the calendar of forthcoming meetings


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