Research by Partners Serbia shows that the judiciary has not made significant progress in the area of transparency
For the second year in a row, the Partners Serbia organization has conducted research on the state of transparency of courts and prosecutors’ offices in the Republic of Serbia.
The research includes an analysis of the proactive and reactive transparency levels of courts and prosecutors’ offices and an analysis of strategic documents pertaining to the communication of the judiciary with the public. In contrast with last year, the research this year also included an analysis of the judiciary's legislative reforms.
Results of the research show that courts and prosecutors’ offices have not made significant progress in the field of transparency and openness compared to the results of the previous research. The conclusion remains the same - there is no uniform approach in the communication of courts and/or prosecutors’ offices, regardless of whether this concerns information available on the institutions’ websites, or responses to requests for access to information of public importance.
As for proactive transparency, the main problems remain the irregular updating of information on the institutions’ work, rare publication of news and information on ongoing investigations and court proceedings, and a complete absence of news conferences on cases in which the public is justifiably interested. Although the Commissioner has made an influence on the standardization of the type of information and formats in which institutions should publish information about their work through the creation of the Single Information System of Directories platform, the research shows that a large number of courts and prosecutors’ offices in the sample did not update their directories in 2023.
The analysis of the courts' and prosecutors’ offices responses to requests for access to information of public importance did not produce encouraging results either. Although all courts and prosecutors’ offices in the sample responded to the requests and submitted the requested documents, the majority anonymized the documents excessively. In this way, institutions only appear to be transparent, but the requested information remains inaccessible.
Another discouragement is that the adoption of new judicial laws did not have a major influence on improving judicial authorities' transparency, although problems in this field are recognized in different strategic documents of the highest judicial institutions. During this year and the next, a number of other judicial by-laws are planned to be drafted. Therefore, we call on the highest judicial authorities to create provisions related to providing access to information on the work of the judiciary.
The entire research is presented in the publication, "Analysis of the State of Transparency and Openness of Judicial Bodies" and is available on the website of Partners Serbia: LINK
This publication was funded by the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State