Newsletter of the Venice Commission
4 / 2013


In this issue



October 2013 plenary session

All decisions of the October plenary

At its 96th plenary session on 11-12 October 2013, the Commission adopted opinions on inter alia :

- was informed on follow-up to the opinion on the Draft Law on the Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Amicus curiae brief for the Constitutional Court of Moldova on the immunity of judges; the Opinion on the draft law on the amendments to the Constitution strengthening the independence of Judges and
the opinion on changes proposed by the Constitutional Assembly to the Constitution of Ukraine;

- adopted amendments to its Rules of Procedure and took decisions aimed at improving its working methods;

- endorsed the compilations of Venice Commission of opinions concerning Freedom of Religion and Belief and concerning Political Parties;

 (read the synopsis of the plenary)


Selected opinions

  • Ukraine - draft law on prosecutors office

    By letter dated 2 August 2013, the Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine, Mr Lyovochkin, requested an opinion on the Draft Law on the Public Prosecutors Office of Ukraine (CDL-REF(2013)041 and comparative table CDL-REF(2013)043, hereinafter, the “Draft Law”) from the Venice Commission and the Directorate General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law of the Council of Europe. In view of the urgency of this matter, the Bureau of the Venice Commission authorised the transmission of a draft of this opinion to the Ukrainian authorities in advance of its discussion at the October plenary session.

    This opinion first briefly reviews the concerns expressed in previous opinions about the existing Law. It then outlines the significant advances made by the Draft Law towards fulfilling the requirement of Council of Europe standards and identifies the main aspects of the draft Law that are still problematic in that regard. The opinion then provides an article by article analysis of the draft Law, dealing with those provisions that need amendment, clarification, further consideration or deletion. It concludes with a summary of the recommendations made and an overall assessment of the acceptability of the draft Law.

    (read the summary )

  • Tunisia-opinion on the draft Constitution  

    By letter dated 3 June 2013, the Speaker of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, Mr Mustapha Ben Jaafer, requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on the final draft Constitution of Tunisia as soon as possible.

    The Commission wishes to congratulate the Tunisian people on their efforts to provide themselves with a democratic Constitution, based on the universal principles of democracy and human rights. In addition, it welcomes the commitment of the National Constituent Assembly to submit to the Venice Commission the text of the final draft Constitution, a
    result of long negotiations and intense legal discussion.

    In the opinion endorsed at the October 2013 session, the Commission has made a number of suggestions intended merely to provide assistance to the National Constituent Assembly. These suggestions in no way undermine the esteem held by the Commission for the outstanding work accomplished by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly.

    (read the opinion)

    • Azerbaijan - protection from defamation

    On 19 September 2012, the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan requested the assistance of the Venice Commission in drafting a Law on Defamation, as part of the National Programme for Action to Raise Effectiveness of Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms and of the execution of two judgments of the European Court of Human Rights against Azerbaijan, in which the Court found violations by Azerbaijan of Article 10 of the ECHR.

    The Commission concluded that the Draft Law on the Protection against Defamation was a positive first step in devising comprehensive civil legislation in the relevant field. It aims at providing efficient guarantees for the protection of reputation, while safeguarding free enjoyment of freedom of expression, including the right to receive and impart information and uncensored and unhindered journalism.

    However, in its current form, the Draft Law is, in many respects, not in line with the applicable ECHR principles and case law and fails to ensure adequate implementation of the country’s obligations in this field.


    (read the summary)




    Harvard Law School and Council of Europe - Joint conference

    23 September 2013

    Boston, Centre for European Studies, Harvard University Law School - Mr Jan Helgesen, First Vice-President of the Venice Commission, participated in the Conference on "Divided by a Common Heritage : Human Rights in Europe and the United States".

    The event was organised by Harvard University and the Council of Europe. Leading Harvard Law School and European scholars presented their views on the subject along with the Secretary General Thobjorn Jagland delivering the keynote speech.

    Programme of the conference


    World Conference on Constitutional Justice – 80 members and counting

    29 October 2013


    The Constitutional Court of Jordan joined the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (further: WCCJ), which now unites 80 Constitutional Courts and Councils and Supreme Courts in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. The WCCJ promotes constitutional justice – understood as constitutional review including human rights case-law – as a key element for democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law (Article 1.2 of the Statute).

    The main purpose of the World Conference is to facilitate judicial dialogue between constitutional judges on a global scale. The World Conference pursues its objectives through the organisation of regular congresses, by promoting experiences and case-law and by offering good services to members on their request. The Venice Commission assisted the constitutional courts in setting up the WCCJ and formally acts as its Secretariat, in accordance with Article 4.c(1) of the WCCJ’s Statute.


    Selected activities since the June 2013 session

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    Russian Federation - Forthcoming opinion - Visit of a delegation of the Venice Commission - 16 - 18/09/2013

    Moscow - In the framework of the opinion on the amendments to the Law on non-commercial Organisations and the Law on Treason and Espionage, a delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Prokuratura, the Douma, the Ombudsman's office, Supreme court and the civil society.

    • Constitutional and Ordinary Justice

    Constitutional Justice - Joint Council 

    Venice - 12th meeting of the Joint Council on Constitutional Justice and mini-conference on "Children's Rights". Liaison officers from more than 50 courts, international exerts, members of the Venice Commission attended the meeting.

    • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties

    Meeting on VOTA database of electoral legislation -
    13 - 16/09/2013

    Strasbourg - A delegation from the Federal Electoral Court of Mexico visits the Venice Commission in order to discuss the implementation of the VOTA database. 

    On this occasion the President of the
    Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Bucharest University.
    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Third Intercultural Workshop on Democracy – Political Parties
    18 - 19/10/2013

    Bucharest – the Venice Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania organised the 3d Intercultural Workshop on Democracy “Political parties – key factors in the political development of democratic societies”. This activity brought together representatives of national parliaments and academics from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen who exchanged their experiences on international standards and national legislation and practice in the field of political parties.

    This seminar was organised thanks to contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, OSCE/ODIHR and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.



    Available now from Council of Europe Publishing:

    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law : Issue 2012-3

    Available now from the Secretariat:

    • Venice Commission in 2012 - Annual report of activities




    • Armenia - draft changes to the Civil Code (moral damage)

    • Bosnia and Herzegovina - revision of the Constitution of the BiH Federation

    • Italy - laws on defamation

    • Kosovo* - draft law on religious freedom

    • Montenegro - relations between the state and church;

    • Romania - constitutional reform 

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

    • Tadjikistan - Code of Judicial Ethics

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

    • Ukraine - revised draft amendments to the Constitution regarding judiciary


    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


    • Constitutional justice
    • Ordinary justice

    Link to the calendar of forthcoming meetings

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