The Government did not rush with the law drafting, but the Parliament needs to hurry with the deliberation. Emergency procedure or amendments, that is the question now.
The Law on State Prosecution, the Law on Special State Prosecution, the Law Amending the Criminal Procedure Code, the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests, the Law on Financing of Political Parties, probably the Law on Confiscation of Assets Acquitted through Criminal Activity as well, and various others, will be drafted by the Government and sent to the Parliament for deliberation under urgent procedure.
The Government expects that the Parliament will deliberate on these bills and adopt them by the end of this year, although the Government itself worked on the draft laws during the last year and was criticized by the European Commission because of the delay.
The delay most probably occurred due to the seriousness of the subject matter of these laws and the willingness of the Government to make them better. This would be fine if the Parliament would be granted the same right instead of the requirement to speed up the process under the false veil of patriotism, the necessity of achieving European standards and ensuring advancement in the accession negotiation. Is there justification for adopting key legislation in the field of judicial reform and fight against corruption under emergency procedure?
Theoretically, the contribution of the Parliament to the adoption of good laws is measured by the amendments and interventions submitted with the aim of improving the bills, and not by the speed of their adoption. In other words, the amendments aimed at improving current laws are a true patriotic act. But, there will be no time for a fundamental review of these laws under existing circumstances. Especially when it is being announced that the Venice Commission and the European Commission praised the laws, which implies that this is sufficient reason for their immediate adoption. Emergency procedure implies that the Parliament lacks the capacity to deal with so many questions at the same time, which is correct, to some extent. But is it “more natural” to strengthen the legislative role of the Parliament or to avoid it?
In any case, the opinion of the Venice Commission and the European Commission, which all participants in the legislative process use as a method of abolishment of responsibility for the quality of these laws, are not available. On the other hand, versions of the draft laws that were put on a public hearing abound in problems and contradictory solutions, as was pointed out by the domestic NGOs.
Institute Alternative has participated in four public hearings and submitted written comments, which were subsequently submitted to the new Supreme State Prosecutor as well. We assumed that the Prosecutor would advocate for more serious reforms than those proposed in the draft laws, bearing in mind that he will be the one responsible for the results achieved. However, we are aware that there is no time for that, either. Whether the draft laws from the public hearings are improved and in what way will be known when the Government adopts the bills. After that, the only hope and responsibility for their improvement is in the hands of the Parliament.
Public Policy Researcher
The text is originally published in the ”Forum” section of the Daily Newspaper Vijesti