Venice Commission e-Newsletter
COUNCIL OF EUROPE                                                       July 2008
75th Plenary Session
Plenary session
The Venice Commission met on 13 and 14 June 2008 at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice.

Next Plenary Session

The 76th Plenary Session of the Commission will take place in Venice on 17-18 October 2008.

Latest publications


- CIA above the law?  Secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees in Europe

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Constitutional co-operation
The Venice Commission played an important role in protecting the right to freedom of assembly in Armenia. After the state of emergency was declared in Armenia in early March 2008, and amendments to the law on rallies were passed which effectively prolonged the state of emergency imposing too strict limits on the exercise of freedom of assembly, the Commission and ODIHR met with the Armenian authorities in April 2008 with a view to discussing the necessary furhter amendments to the law. Throughout April and May, the Commission and ODIHR provided their assessment of Armenia proposals for changes. The amendments were finally considered by the VC and ODIHR to be satisfactory, and were adopted by the National Assembly on 11 June 2008. The Commission has insisted with the Armenian authorities that a positive assessment of the level of protection of the right to demonstrate in Armenia depends on the manner in which the law will be implementated, the law itself not being sufficient in this respect.
The Commission also assessed certain draft amendments to the criminal code of Armenia concerning offences linked with the freedom of assembly. The Commission criticised them and invited the Armenian parliament not to adopt them.
The Commission further assessed draft amendments to the constitution of the Republika Srpska, and found that they raised several issues and therefore deserved further consideration.
The Commission also assisted the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to the law on conflict of interest in governmental bodies. This law needs technical improvement. It also raises the question of the division of competences between the State and the entities. The Commission is ready to pursue its co-operation on this matter.
Constitutional Justice
At its XIVth Congress, the Circle of Presidents of the Conference of European Constitutional Courts, adopted a Resolution welcoming the excellent co-operation between the European Constitutional Courts and the Venice Commission and sought the continuation and further deepening of this co-operation for the benefit of constitutional justice in Europe (Vilnius, 3 June 2008). 
The Resolution referred to the wide range of services, which the Venice Commission provides to the courts, in particular the publication of the Bulletin on Constitutional Case-Law, the database CODICES (, the Venice Forum, opinions on the legislation on the courts, amicus curiae opinions; the continued updating on information on the Courts; as well as the organisation of conferences and seminars with the Courts. The Circle of Presidents also recalled that already since the XIth Congress in 1999, the Venice Commission regularly produces special issues of the Bulletin on Constitutional Case-Law on the topics chosen for the Congresses of the European Conference and provides information on the candidates for membership with the Conference.
Many constitutional courts and equivalent bodies (constitutional councils, supreme courts with constitutional jurisdiction) have already registered for the first World Conference on Constitutional Justice (Cape Town, 23-24 January 2009). However, some courts still haven't received their invitation. If your Court has not been invited but this Newsletter reaches you, please contact the Secretariat by e-mail
or by fax +33 388 41 37 38.

Elections and Referendums
The Venice Commission was very active in the framework of the 21 May 2008 parliamentary elections in Georgia. In particular, an expert of the Venice Commission assisted the Central Election Commission of Georgia on legal and technical issues during six weeks, from 28 April to 5 June 2008. Seminars were organised on electoral disputes with judges in charge of these disputes (6 May 2008), as well as a workshop on the holding and supervision of elections, directed towards NGOs involved in the observation process (on 7 May 2008).
During their sessions of 12-14 June 2008, the Council for Democratic Elections and the Venice Commission adopted joint opinions with OSCE/ODIHR on electoral law of Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The opinion on the electoral law of Azerbaijan underlines that, in spite of some progress, important recommendations of the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR were not followed, in particular concerning the composition of election commissions. Furthermore, good faith implementation of the electoral code remains crucial.
The Commission also adopted a report on dual voting of persons belonging to national minorities. It concludes that dual voting is an exceptional measure, which has to be within the framework of the Constitution, and may be admitted if it respects the principle of proportionality under its various aspects. This implies that it can only be justified if: 
- it is impossible to reach the aim pursued through other less restrictive measures which do not infringe upon equal voting rights; 
- it has a transitional character; 
- it concerns only a small minority.