The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia), are implementing the Serbia Criminal Defense Capacity Program with support from the U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL). Under this 24-month award, ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia, are increasing the capacity of Serbian lawyers to effectively represent clients under the newly revised Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) by providing training in the provisions of the new CPC and trial advocacy skills. In addition, ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia are assessing the use of pre-trial detention in Serbia, and organizing a series of workshops to increase advocates’ plea-bargaining skills.
The goal of the CDCP is to improve citizens’ access to justice by improving the capacity of the defense counsels to provide competent legal representation to their clients. The Program will strengthen ability of defense attorneys to understand and enact changes put in place by the new CPC and to improve their ability to protect the rights of the accused through trial advocacy skills. Special aspect of the Program will be dedicated to increasing awareness of defense counsels and general legal public on possibilities to conclude plea agreements and agreements on testimony, as well as to developing attorneys’ ability to effectively negotiate plea agreements.
The new CPC was adopted on 26 November 2011. For criminal offenses of organized crime and war crimes, its implementation has commenced on 15 January 2012, while for all the other cases, new CPC will be implemented as of 15 January 2013. The new CPC brings number of novelties, and some of the most significant are related to the gradual replacement of the current principles of the inquisitorial to adversarial model, more active role of prosecutors and defense counsels, “equality of arms” at the trial, possibilities to conclude plea bargains and agreements on testimony, as well as to use alternatives to detention in order to secure the presence of the defendant.
ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia will work closely with relevant local legal and judicial institutions and organizations, including the Bar Association of Serbia (BAS), regional bar associations, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), and Judicial Academy.
As a part of the Project, ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia will organize number of seminars for attorneys and trainees in order to train them to act upon the new CPC, as well as other different educational and awareness raising events (mock trials, trainings, panel discussions) that will bring together defense attorneys, judges and prosecutors in order to exchange their experiences and enabling them to better understand each other’s roles under the new CPC.
As an innovative educational tool available to a large group of beneficiaries, ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia will develop an E-learning program, using a modern internet based training methodology that will be available to attorneys and trainees from all parts of Serbia.