Venice Commission e-Newsletter
COUNCIL OF EUROPE                                                       January 2008
73rd Plenary Session
Plenary session
The Venice Commission met on 14 and 15 December 2007 at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice.
The Venice Commission adopted:

Next Plenary Session

The 74th Plenary Session of the Commission will take place in Venice on 14-15 March 2008.

Latest publications

- Europeans and their rights - Child rights in Europe

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Jan Helgesen

New President of the Venice Commission

Mr Jan Erik Helgesen was elected president of the Venice Commission. He is the second president in the history of the Commission. Mr Jan Helgesen has been the Norwegian member of the Commission since its outset in 1990.
Constitutional co-operation
Constitution of Montenegro
The Venice Commission successfully assisted newly independent Montenegro to prepare a Constitution in line with European standards. The new Constitution was adopted on 19 October 2007. 
Law on Freedom of Assembly in Azerbaijan
The Venice Commission continued its co-operation with Azerbaijan with a view to preparing amendments to the Law on Freedom of Assembly. This activity was carried out in consultation with the OSCE Mission in Azerbaijan and OSCE/ODIHR. A set of amendments in line with European standards was finalised in December 2007 and will be submitted to parliament shortly.
Constitutional Justice
At its 6th meeting (Cartagena, Colombia, 28-30 November 2007), the Ibero-American Conference of Constitutional Justice agreed to co-operate with the Venice Commission. This agreement will allow the member courts of the Conference to contribute to the Venice Commission  database CODICES and to present their case-law to readers in other countries of the region, in Europe, as well as in other parts of the world.


In co-operation with the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and the Aga Khan Foundation, the Venice Commission organised the Lisbon Forum 2007 on "National human rights institutions - the cornerstone of the protection and promotion of human rights" (16-17 November 2007). The Forum discussed the role and objectives of national human rights institutions, in particular those of ombudspersons and national human rights commissions. The Forum had a particular focus on the interaction between these institutions and national courts, whether constitutional or ordinary courts. In addition, participants discussed the role of these institutions in the promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.


On 4-6 October 2007, the XIIth Yerevan International Conference, organised in co-operation with the Constitutional Court of Armenia, dealt with the topic "International experience of the co-operation between Constitutional Courts and Ombudsmen in the field of the protection of Human Rights". One of the main subjects of the discussions was the possibility of ombudspersons to appeal to constitutional courts, seeking the annulment of unconstitutional legislation. In its opinions, the Venice Commission recommends this type of appeal, which can be particularly beneficial for the protection of human rights.


In its Opinion on the possible reform of the Ombudsman Institution in Kazakhstan, adopted in June 2007, the Venice Commission  took the opportunity to discuss this issue as well as other topics, which are essential for the independence and efficiency of ombudsman institutions (constitutional guarantees, budgetary independence, specialised ombudsman institutions, etc.).


The Venice Commission is also available for requests for opinions by ombudspersons on issues other than their own status, so-called amicus ombud opinions. At its December session, the Commission endorsed its Comments on the compatibility of Article 301 of the Criminal Code of Armenia with European Standards. Article 301 penalises "public calls for seizing state power by force".

Elections and Referendums

Georgia - Assistance to the Central Electoral Commission 

At the request of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and in view of the presidential election in Georgia, the Venice Commission appointed a long-term expert in electoral law to work with Georgia's CEC. This expert assisted the CEC in increasing its activities relating to the conduct of the presidential election of 5 January 2008.

United Kingdom - Electoral Law

In December 2007, a delegation of the Venice Commission prepared an Opinion on the Electoral Law of the United Kingdom, together with the authorities of the United Kingdom, in particular the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Justice, as well as specialists in elections.This Opinion was requested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and addresses, in particular, the issues of registration of voters and postal voting. The Venice Commission encouraged Great Britain to move towards an individual registration system. The Venice Commission noted the progress made towards a reliable postal voting system and that the special requirements for Northern Ireland are justified and fair.