Newsletter of the Venice Commission
3 / 2013


In this issue:



JUNE 2013 plenary session

All decisions of the June plenary

At its 95th plenary session on 14-15 March 2013, the Commission adopted opinions on inter alia :

The Commission also held an exchange of views among others with:

  • Mr Alexandre Baramidze, Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia,
  • Mr János Martonyi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary,
  • Mr José Badia, Government Councillor for External Relations of Monaco, with Mr Laurent Anselmi, Director General of the Legal Affairs Department of the Government, with Mr Philippe Narmino, Director of Judicial Services and with Mr Laurent Nouvion, President of the National Council of Monaco,
  • Mr Ranko Krivokapic, Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro, about progress in the reform of the constitutional provisions on the judiciary and, in view of the urgency, authorised the rapporteurs to send the draft opinion on the new draft constitutional amendments to the Montenegrin authorities, prior to its submission to the October 2013 Plenary Session,
  • Mr Andriy Portnov, Adviser to the President of Ukraine, Mr Valeriy Pysarenko, Chairman of the Committee on Judicial Policy, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and with Ms Inna Yemelyanova, First Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine,
  • Mr Khaled Al-Qazzaz, Secretary on Foreign Affairs to the President of Egypt

and was informed on follow-up inter alia to:

  • the Opinion on the compatibility with human rights standards of the legislation on non-governmental organisations of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
  • the Opinion on the practice of blanket resignation of Ministers in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • the joint opinion by the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the election code of Bulgaria;

(read more)

Selected opinions

  • Hungary - Forth Amendment to the Constitution
  • On 11 March 2013, the Parliament of Hungary adopted the Fourth Amendment (CDL-REF(2013)014) to the Fundamental Law (CDL-REF(2013)016 - consolidated version). The Venice Commission was requested to examine the Fourth Amendment from the point of view of its compatibility with Council of Europe standards - by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe - and with regard to international commitments that derive from Hungary's membership of the Council of Europe - by the Hungarian authorities.

    The Commission is of the opinion that the Fourth Amendment perpetuates the problematic position of the President of the National Judicial Office, seriously undermines the possibilities of constitutional review in Hungary and endangers the constitutional system of checks and balances. Together with the en bloc use of cardinal laws to perpetuate choices made by the present majority, the Fourth Amendment is the result of an instrumental view of the Constitution as a political means of the governmental majority and is a sign of the abolition of the essential difference between constitution-making and ordinary politics.

    (read the summary )

  • Monaco - Constitution and legislation
  • By a letter dated 19 December 2012, the President of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on the Constitution of Monaco (CDL-REF(2013)021) "in order to examine more in particular the compatibility with the democratic standards of the constitutional provisions concerning the National Council, taking into account the specificities of Monaco."

    The opinion focuses on the balance of the executive, legislative and judiciary powers established by the Constitution and the legislation of Monaco, in the light of European and international standards on democracy and the rule of law and of the common constitutional heritage of the European monarchies. As is the case for all Venice Commission opinions, the legal analysis duly takes the specific features of the country concerned into account.

    (read the summary)

    • So-called Propaganda of Homosexuality

    By a letter dated 7 December 2012, the Chairman of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe requested an opinion on "the issue of the prohibition of so-called "propaganda of homosexuality" in the light of recent legislation in some Council of Europe Member States, including the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine

    By a letter of 18 April 2013, the Venice Commission invited the authorities of the above-mentioned States to provide, if they so wished, any observation or additional elements of fact or law that they deemed relevant for the Commission's upcoming opinion. No observation was provided to the Venice Commission.

    The provisions under consideration in this opinion are examples of a wider phenomenon manifested by attempts at both local and central level of government in several Council of Europe Member States, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, to introduce prohibition of "propaganda of homosexuality." They raise concerns as to whether the international standards safeguarding freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the principle of non-discrimination are met.

    (read the summary)




    Moldova - Statement by the President of the Venice Commission
    03 May 2013

    "I learned today about the adoption, at first reading, of the draft amendment to the Law on the Constitutional Court of Moldova. According to this amendment, Parliament may remove judges of the Constitutional Court by a 3/5 vote of its members if the judges do not have Parliament's "trust".

    Such a provision is in clear contradiction with European Standards on constitutional justice and is a clear violation of Article 137 of the Constitution of Moldova. A constitutional court has the task of controlling the work of Parliament. Subjecting its judges to the need of being "trusted" by Parliament is in evident contradiction with the very purpose of a constitutional court.

    I strongly encourage Parliament not to adopt this law. It would be the task of the current composition of the Constitutional Court to decide on the constitutionality of this provision."

    Gianni Buquicchio


    Tunisia - Request for opinion on the draft Constitution
    06 June 2013


    In a letter to the President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio dated 3 June 2013 the President of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia Mr Mustapha Ben Jaafer requested the Commission's opinion on the draft Constitution which had been finalised by the Assembly shortly before the request was sent.

    The draft opinion will be released at the end of July 2013.


    Selected activities since the March 2013 session

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    Romania - Conference on the constitutional reform

    Bucharest - A delegation of the Venice Commission attended a Conference jointly organised with the Romanian Constitutional Forum, to discuss civil society proposals for amending the Constitution of Romania. The meeting was attended by representatives of the most prominent Romanian NGOs as well as of Romania's political forces and of the Constitutional Committee of the Parliament, in charge of drafting the Bill amending the present Constitution.

    On 25 March 2013, the Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta requested the assistance of the Venice Commission in the process of constitutional reform.

    • Constitutional and Ordinary Justice

    Latin America - Regional conference - Constitutional Justice

    Arequipa, Peru - the Venice Commission and the Constitutional Court of Peru organised a regional conference on the topic of "Individual access to constitutional justice".

    A Venice Commission delegation headed by its President, participated in the event. The Courts from the following countries were represented: Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru as well as non-members of the Venice Commission such as Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.

    • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties

    10th European Conference of Electoral Management Bodies

    Chisinau - The tenth Conference of the Electoral Management Bodies, jointly organised with the Central Election Commission of Moldova, was held in Chisinau on 26 -27 June 2013. The Conference was opened by the President of the Republic of Moldova Nicolae Timofti.

    More than 100 participants, representatives of 26 countries joined the event. Also represented were the European Union, the OSCE/ODIHR, International IDEA, companies and international NGOs active in the electoral field.

    European and domestic case-law with respect to Article 3 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the funding of electoral campaigns and political parties and the improvement of the functioning of electoral management bodies to increase public confidence were the main issues addressed during the conference.

    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Turkmenistan - Roundtable on the efficiency of the judiciary and access to justice

    Ashgabat - a roundtable on "The efficiency of the Judiciary and Access to Justice as the key elements of the Rule of Law" took place on 9 April 2013 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Participants of this meeting included members of Parliament, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. Discussions focused on the fundamental issues pertaining to the efficiency of the judiciary and to the rule of law.

    This activity was organised within the framework of the joint EU- Council of Europe programme "Supporting Constitutional Justice, Access to Justice and Electoral Reform in the countries of Central Asia" with financial contribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and implemented by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.



    Available now from Council of Europe Publishing:

    In the series "Science and technique of democracy" No50:


    • Venice Commission in 2012 - Annual report of activities



    • Azerbaijan - draft law on defamation
    • Belarus - Law on the Bar and the profession of lawyer

    • Italy - laws on defamation

    • Montenegro - relations between the state and church; draft amendments to the Constitution concerning the judiciary

    • Morocco - setting up of the Authority for Parity and the Fight against Discrimination and the Consultative Council for Family and Childhood

    • Romania - constitutional reform

    • Russian Federation - law on NGOs; law on high treason and espionage

    • "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - electoral code

    • Tunisia - draft Constitution
    • Ukraine - revised electoral legislation; draft law on the Prosecutors office.


    Electoral issues

    • Use of administrative resources during electoral campaigns
    • Criteria for standing for local and regional elections
    • Method of nomination of candidates within political parties
    • The extent of the voter's choice: lists and candidates

    Democratic institutions and fundamental rights

    • Parliamentary immunity
    • Freedom of religion and belief- joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC revised guidelines
    • Freedom of association - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines
    • Freedom of assembly - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines
    • Constitutional protection of children's' rights
    • Security Services - update of the Commission's study
    • Rule of law - check list


    • Freedom of religion and belief
    • Political parties
    • Constitutional justice
    • Ordinary justice

    Link to the calendar of forthcoming meetings

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