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Newsletter of the Venice Commission
5 / 2013


In this issue


December 2013 plenary session

All decisions of the December plenary

At its 97th plenary session on 6-7 December 2013, the Commission  :

- paid tribute to Nelson Mandela;

- adopted opinions on:

    -    the draft law on making changes and additions to the Civil Code of Armenia (introducing compensation for non-pecuniary damage);

    -   the draft amendments to the Law on the Occupied Territories as well as to other relevant legal acts of Georgia;

    -   the legislation on defamation of Italy;  

    -   the draft amendments to the Law on the Occupied Territories as well as to other relevant legal acts of Georgia;

    the legislation on defamation of Italy;

    the Code of Judicial Ethics of Tajikistan;

    -   the draft law on Amendments to the Constitution to strengthen the Independence of Judges in Ukraine;

-    adopted the report on the misuse of administrative resources during electoral processes, previously adopted by the Council for Democratic Elections;

-      held an exchange of views with :

  • Mr Nodar Tangiashvili, Head of the International Organizations and Legal Provision Department of the Georgian Ministry for Reintegration;
  • Mr Zafar Nusratovich Azizov, President of the Judicial Council of the Republic of Tajikistan,
  • Mr Omar Abu Lifa, President of the Legal Committee of the General National Congress of Libya who invited a Commission delegation to visit the country as soon as possible;

-  was informed on follow-up to the Opinions on

o      three Draft Constitutional Laws amending two Constitutional Laws amending the Constitution of Georgia;

o      the Joint Interim Opinion on the Draft Law amending the Law on Non-commercial Organisations and other Legislative Acts of the Kyrgyz Republic;

o      the Amicus Curiae Brief on crimes against humanity, for the Constitutional Court of Peru;

o      the Joint Opinion on Draft Amendments to Legislation on the Election of People’s Deputies of Ukraine and the Joint Opinion on the Draft Law on the Public Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine;

(read the synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Italy - legislation on defamation
    In its Resolution 1920 (2013) on the state of media freedom in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe requested an opinion from the Venice Commission on “whether the Italian laws on defamation are in line with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights” .

    The opinion assesses whether the Italian legal framework on defamation, including the defamation Bill adopted by the Chamber of Deputies on 17 October 2013, meets the European standards. Since the request of the Parliamentary Assembly was made with reference to the Sallusti case, the opinion places particular emphasis on defamation by the means of the media.

    The prohibition of defamation raises the issue of the appropriate balance to be struck between freedom of expression, as protected by Article 10 ECHR, and the right to respect for private and family life, as protected by Article 8 ECHR. Freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities which are of particular significance when the reputation of a named individual and the “rights of others” are at risk.

    (read the summary )
  • Ukraine - revised draft amendments to the Constitution regarding the judiciary   

    By letter of 5 November 2013, the Head of the Administration of the President of Ukraine, Mr Lyovochkin, requested the Venice Commission to prepare an opinion on Proposals, submitted by 156 members of the Verkhovna Rada, amending the draft Law “On Amendments to the Constitution, strengthening the Independence of the Judges”.

    The Venice Commission has provided a series of opinions on Ukraine’s judiciary. The most relevant for the examination of the Proposals is the “Opinion on the Draft Law on the amendments to the Constitution, Strengthening the Independence of Judges and on the Changes to the Constitution proposed by the Constitutional Assembly of Ukraine”. That Opinion was given, inter alia, on the Draft Law on the Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, strengthening the Independence of Judges.

    These Proposals purport to amend the Draft Law amending the Constitution, submitted by the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. These Proposals contain some welcome elements, notably: the introduction of a right to fair trial within reasonable time (however, its implementation needs to be addressed); the exclusion of the re-appointment of the Prosecutor General; the strengthening of the role of the Supreme Court...

    (read the summary)



    Assises de la Justice - EU Conference

    21-22 November 2013

    Brussels – President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio participated in the Assises de la Justice Conference on “What role for Justice in the European Union?” organised by the European Commission.

    Elections at the Venice Commission

    6 December 2013

    At its 97th plenary session the Venice Commission on 6 December 2013 elected, for a term of two years, as follows:
    - the Bureau:
    • Mr Gianni Buquicchio (Italy) as President of the Commission;
    • Mr Jan Helgesen (Norway) as First Vice-President and Chair of the Scientific Council;
    • Mr E. Tanchev (Bulgaria) and Ms H. Thorgeirsdottir (Iceland) as Vice-Presidents;

    • Ms F. Flanagan (Ireland), Ms T. Khabrieva (Russian Federation), Mr G. Harutyunian (Armenia) and Mr G. Papuashvili (Georgia) as members;

    • the Chairs of the Sub Commissions :
    • Mr B. Vermeulen (Netherlands) - Fundamental Rights;
    • Mr W. Hoffmann-Riem (Germany) - Federal State and Regional State;
    • Ms V. Bilkova (Czech Republic) - International Law;
    • Mr J. Velaers (Belgium) - Protection of Minorities;
    • Mr N. Esanu (Moldova) - Judiciary;
    • Ms H. Suchocka (Poland) - Democratic Institutions;
    •  Mr J.S. Sørensen (Denmark) - Working methods;
    • Ms M. C. Alanis Figueroa (Mexico) - Latin America;
    • Mr A. Menouni (Morocco) - Mediterranean Basin;
    • Mr K. Tuori (Finland) - Rule of law;
    • Mr C. Grabenwarter (Austria) as the Co-Chair of the Joint Council on Constitutional Justice;

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

      - the Vice-Chairs of the Sub Commissions
      (without representation on the Enlarged Bureau)
    • Ms L. Err (Luxembourg) - Fundamental Rights;
    • Ms R. Kiener (Switzerland) - Federal State and Regional State;
    • Mr I. Cameron (Sweden) - International Law;
    • Ms G. Siljanovska (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) - Protection of Minorities;
    • Mr H. Gstöhl (Liechtenstein) - Judiciary;
    • Mr L. Mihai (Romania) - Democratic Institutions;
    • Mr R. Clayton (United Kingdom) - Working methods;
    • Mr J. B. Gomes Barbosa (Brazil) - Latin America;
    • Mr D. Chagnollaud (Monaco) - Mediterranean Basin;
    • Ms S. Cleveland (United States) - Rule of law.

    Selected activities since the October 2013 session

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    International Conference on the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties at the domestic level - 23-25/10/2013
    Mexico, D.F.- The Electoral Federal Tribunal of Mexico, in cooperation with the Venice Commission, organizes an International Conference on the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties at the domestic level, with a specific focus on the Latin American experience. A very large number of countries from all Latin America, as well as many members of the Venice Commission attended this event and exchanged views.  

    • Constitutional and Ordinary Justice

    Orientation seminar for the Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Republic - 13 - 15/11/2013

    Kalmak-Ashu – an orientation seminar aimed at judges, experts and staff of the newly established Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Republic aimed to discuss the experience of different constitutional courts in order to assist the Constitutional Chamber to organise its work in an efficient manner. The participants discussed the role and functions of the Chamber, as well as its structure and rules of procedure and its interaction with different state bodies and media.

    • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties
    Bulgaria - Electoral reform
    13 - 14/11/2013

    Sofia - Within the framework of the on-going electoral reform in Bulgaria, a delegation of the Venice Commission meets representatives of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, of political parties and of the civil society as well as the parliamentary committees in charge of preparing draft amendments.  

    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Uzbekistan - International Conference on Human Rights 

    Tashkent – On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Venice Commission is invited to take part in a Conference on “The role and place of the national system for the protection of human rights during the country’s modernisation: international practice and experience of Uzbekistan”. This Conference is organised by the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan.


    Available now from Council of Europe Publishing:

    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law : Special issue - "Leading cases - European Court of Justice"
    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2013/1




    • Albania - legislation on judiciary and on the Constitutional Court;

    • Armenia - constitutional reform; draft code on the judiciary;

    • Azerbaijan - draft law on status of municipalities; 

    • Bulgaria - electoral code;

    • Bosnia and Herzegovina - revision of the Constitution of the BiH Federation; draft amendments to the law on the judicial council;

    • Kosovo* - draft law on religious freedom;

    • Moldova - draft electoral reform;

    • Montenegro - relations between the state and church;

    • Romania - constitutional reform; 

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

      *All references to Kosovo shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.


    Electoral issues

    • 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

    • Electoral lists and voters abroad


    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

    • Implementing international human rights treaties in the domestic arena  

    • Security Services - update of the Commission's study

    • Rule of law - check list


    • Constitutional justice
    • Ordinary justice

    Link to the calendar of upcoming events

    Contact us



    Warm seasonal greetings to all!
    Happy and prosperous year 2014!