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Newsletter of the Venice Commission
2 / 2014


In this issue


June 2014 plenary session

 All decisions of the June plenary

At its 99th plenary session on 13-14 June 2014 in Venice, the Commission:

·        paid tribute to the late Jean-Claude Colliard, member of the Venice Commission in respect of France;

·        adopted opinions inter alia on:

o     the draft amendments to the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes of Albania;

o     the draft law on Making Amendments and Supplements to the Judicial Code of the Republic of Armenia;

o     the joint opinion by the Venice Commission and the Directorate General of Democracy (DGII) of the Council of Europe on draft amendments to the law on the Status of Municipalities of the Republic of Azerbaijan;

o     Federal Law no. 121-FZ on Non-commercial Organisations (“Law on Foreign Agents”) and on Federal Law no. 190-FZ on making amendments to the Criminal Code (“Law on Treason”) of the Russian Federation, giving mandate to the rapporteurs to supplement it, notably in the light of very recent amendments to Law no. 121-FZ; 

o    the draft electoral code, the draft constitutional law “On introducing amendments to the Constitutional Law on the status of judges” and on the draft law on the Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Republic;


·     was informed on follow-up to:

o     the amicus curiae brief for the Constitutional Court of Georgia on individual application by public broadcasters;

o     the Joint Opinion on the draft Electoral Code of Bulgaria and

o     the Joint Opinion on the Law on Amending some legislative acts on the election of the President of Ukraine adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 24 July 2009; 

·        held an exchange of views inter alia with :

o   Mr Vrezh Gasparyan, Chief Adviser to the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia;

o   Mr Kamran Bayramov, Director of the Unit for the Work of the Municipalities, Department of Work with Regional and Local Self-Government Authorities of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan;

o   Ms Tinatin Khidasheli, Member of the State Constitutional Reform Commission of Georgia,

o   Mr Danyar Narymbaev, Head of the Presidential Administration of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr Toktogul Tumanov, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on the Judiciary, Mr Omurbek Tekebaev, MP and Mr Mukambet Kasymaliev, President of the Constitutional Chamber;

o   Mr Dimitry Vyatkin, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building of the State Duma of the Russian Federation;


(read the synopsis of the plenary)

Selected opinions

  • Russia  - opinion on the "Law on Foreign Agents" and on the "Law on Treason"

    In February 2013, the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr Christopher Chope, requested the opinions of the Venice Commission on the “ Law on Non-Commercial Organisations”, as amended on 13 July 2012, requiring collaborators of NGOs receiving funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” (hereafter referred to as Law N° 121-FZ  or “Law on Foreign Agents”) and the Federal Law on “Treason and Espionage” of 23 October 2012, on making amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and widening the scope of the criminal provisions on “treason” (hereafter referred to as Law N. 190-FZ or “Law on Treason”).

    The Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, the Kostroma Center for Support of Public Initiatives and three citizens referred certain provisions of the Law on Non-Commercial Organisations as well as of the Code of Administrative Offences to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. The Commission decided to await the judgment of this Court before adopting its Opinion. The Constitutional Court, after holding a hearing on 6 March 2014, rendered its decision on 8 April 2014.

    (read the summary )

  • Slovakia - procedure for appointing judges to the Constitutional Court in times of presidential transition    

    By a letter of 16 May 2014, the Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic, Mr Tomas Borec, requested an opinion on the procedure for appointing judges of the Constitutional Court.

    At the time of the preparation of the opinion the background was as follows:

    ·     On 4 July 2014 the terms of three judges of the Constitutional Court would elapse; 

    ·       In its session from 3 April 2014 to 15 May 2014, the National Council of the Slovak Republic adopted a resolution in which it proposed six candidates for the position of Constitutional Court judges to the President of the Slovak Republic;

    ·      The term of office of the incumbent President of the Slovak Republic would elapse on 15 June 2014. At noon on the same day, the newly elected President of the Republic (directly elected in March 2014 for a term of five years) would take up office.


    The Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic put the following questions to the Venice Commission:

    (1)       whether it is within the power of the incumbent President to appoint three new constitutional judges before his term of office ends on 15 June 2014;

    (2)      if the incumbent President appoints three new judges before his term of office ends, whether the newly elected President who assumes office on 15 June 2014 may refuse to accept the submission of the oath by the judges appointed by the outgoing President, and instead appoint three other persons from the list of candidates;   ...

    (read the summary)  




    Kosovo becomes 60th member of the Venice Commission

    Council of Europe, Strasbourg - At the 1202nd meeting, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe examined a request from Kosovo for membership of the Enlarged Agreement establishing the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission). Noting that Kosovo's membership of the Venice Commission is without prejudice to the positions of individual Council of Europe member States on the status of Kosovo, the Deputies agreed to the request and invited Kosovo to appoint a member to sit on the Commission.

    It has also been decided that the current practice of using a footnote for references to Kosovo* should stop with immediate effect within the Venice Commission.

    Decision by the Committee of Ministers

    Selected activities since the 98th plenary session

    • Democratic Institutions and Fundamental Rights

    Venice Commission's opinions  presented to PACE - 08/04/2014

    Council of Europe, Strasbourg - Ms Herdis Thorgeirsdottir, Vice-President of the Venice Commission, presented the recommendations of the Commission on the defamation legislation of Italy to the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Medias of the PACE. She notably spoke to the Sub-Commission on Media and Information society.

    Later that day the Vice-President also outlined the conclusions of the Commission's study on "The Protection of Children's rights : International Standards and Domestic Constitutions" to the members of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

    • Constitutional and Ordinary Justice

    Austria - Conference of European Constitutional Courts

    12 - 15/05/2014

    Vienna - The President of the Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio participated in the XVIth Congress of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts organised by the Constitutional Court of Austria. of European Constitutional Courts - Austrian presidency document prepared by the Venice Commission for the XVIth Congress

    • Elections, Referendums and Political Parties

    "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" - Electoral observation - Legal assistance to the observation mission of the PACE - 25 - 28/04/2014

    Skopje - A the request of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Venice Commission ensured legal assistance to the Election Observation Mission of the PACE in the context of the early parliamentary elections of 27 April 2014.  

    • Neighbourhood Cooperation

    Brazil - Sub-Commission on Latin America and International workshop on the role of judges on the protection of economic and social rights in times of economic crisis

    05 - 06/05/2014

    Ouro Preto, Brazil - Under the auspices of the Sub-commission on Latin America, the Supreme Court of Brazil in co-operation with the Venice Commission organise an international workshop on the role of the judges in the protection of economic and social rights in times of economic crisis.

    Experts from over 20 countries of Europe, North Africa and Latin America will debate on transversal topics such as the constitutional definition of economic and social rights, their limits, the role of the judges in response to austerity measures and the allocation of resources during an economic crisis.


    Available now from the Secretariat:

    "The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe - Key facts" (2014, Russian version)

    Available from the Council of Europe Publishing:

    • Bulletin of the Constitutional Case-Law: Issue 2013/3

  • "Annual report of activities 2013" (2014, English, French versions)
  • "The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe" (2014, English, French versions)



    • Armenia - constitutional reform;

    • Georgia - amendments to the Constitution; three draft laws on amendments to the legislation on judiciary: - amendments to the Codes of administrative, civil and penal procedure relating to cassation appeals; - draft law making changes to the Law of Georgia on Disciplinary Liability and Disciplinary Proceedings of Judges of General Courts of Georgia and  amendments to the Organic Law on General Courts of Georgia;

    • Malta - draft legislation on political party financing;

    • Montenegro - relations between the state and church;

    • Serbia - draft laws on State Prosecutorial Council; draft law on High Judicial Council;

    • The former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia - draft amendments to the Constitution;

    • Ukraine - draft Constitution.


    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

    • Freedom of association - joint OSCE/ODIHR-VC guidelines

    • 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

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