On December 22, 2016, Partners for Democratic Change Serbia, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the Bar Association of Serbia, held a conference marking the ending of the project “Criminal Defense Capacity Program”. The Conference, held at the Crowne Plaza hotel, was attended by over 60 attorneys and trainees, the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, judicial authorities, professional associations, law faculties, civil society and international organizations, as well as the media.
The attendees were greeted by Blazo Nedic, President of Partners Serbia Managing Board, Radomir Ilic, Secretary of the State within the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia, Jugoslav Tintor, Secretary of the Bar Association of Serbia, and Ermin Sarajlija, regional representative for ABA ROLI.
During the first panel, Ana Toskic, Executive Director of Partners Serbia, presented Project activities and results. Jugoslav Tintor, attorney-at-law from Belgrade, spoke about the contribution the Project has had on the development of defense capacities. Jasmina Milutinovic, Secretary of the Lawyers’ Academy, reflected on Academy’s achievements and presented its plans for the upcoming year. Radmila Radic Dudic, Evaluator of the Project, presented the results of the evaluation of the training component.
The second panel was dedicated to experiences with the implementation of the 2011 Criminal Procedure Cod, as well as the measures taken towards its improvement, as well as recommendations for future implementation. Speakers at this panel were Miodrag Majic, PhD, Judge of the Court of Appeal in Belgrade; Jasmina Kiurski, PhD, Deputy Prosecutor within the Republic Public Prosecutor; Ivan Ilic, Assistant at the Faculty of Law at the University of Nis, and Zarko Markovic, National Legal Officer at the Rule of Law and Human Rights Department within OSCE Mission to Serbia. The Conference was closed by Veljko Delibasic, PhD, lecturer at the Lawyers’ Academy and attorney-at-law from Belgrade, who reflected on achieved results and analyzed the effectiveness of current implementation of 2011 Criminal Procedure Code.
In May 2012, ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia, in cooperation with the Bar Association of Serbia, and supported by the US Department of State/Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), began implementing the project Serbia Criminal Defense Capacity Program.
The Project enabled citizens’ access to justice by increasing defense’s capacities to effectively represent their clients. Within this Project, numerous trainings, seminars and workshops have been organized, where attorneys and attorney trainees had the opportunity to improve their trial advocacy skills, as well as conferences, panels and mock trials, where attorneys, attorney trainees, judges, prosecutors and even law students had the opportunity to exchange experiences in regards to the implementation of new and improvement of the existing criminal procedure institutes. A detailed assessment of detention procedure and other measures for securing the presence of the defendant was conducted, as well as analysis of implementation of plea bargaining, followed by the trainings on plea agreement negotiation skills. As an innovative teaching method for the transfer of knowledge, an on-line program (E-learning) was designed and developed, making the new notions and criminal procedure skills available to attorneys and their trainees throughout Serbia. The Project also provided institutional support to the establishment and development of the Lawyers’ Academy of the Bar Association of Serbia, which is organizing programs of continuous legal education (CLE) for attorneys and attorney trainees.
During the four and a half Project years, over 4.200 attorneys, trainees and law students took part in the Project activities, while the E-learning platform now hosts 1.300 registered users from all parts of Serbia.