60 years of international co-operation in criminal matters


This year is the 60th anniversary European Convention on the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Serbia has ratified 25 Council of Europe conventions which deal with international co-operation in criminal matters. The European Union, together with the Council of Europe, has been supporting the Serbian prosecutors with a training programme to improve effective mutual legal assistance across the borders.

The conference “International Co-operation in Criminal Matters” was marking the closure of these training sessions. Gordana Janicijevic, Deputy Republic Public Prosecutor recognised the importance the assistance provided for for the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“International co-operation in criminal matters, especially in the context of protection of human rights, is crucial precondition for a successful fight against crime by Serbian courts. This is why knowledge prosecutors gained through these activities is important and tailor-made trainings have significantly strengthened our capacities”, Ms Janicijevic said.

The Head of Political Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, Ms Noora Häyrinen, congratulated the prosecutors and deputy prosecutors on the completion of the trainings on the international co-operation in the criminal matters and encouraged everyone to continue maintaining the skills obtained. Ms Häyrinen drew attention to the importance of the overall area of rule of law in the EU accession context.

“Rule of law is vital to proper protection of citizens’ rights and that is why the European Union supports Serbia in the judicial reform process. In order to become a member of the European Union, Serbia agreed to undergo a complex reform process, which also requires substantial reforms in the judiciary and in ensuring protection of fundamental rights. To accompany Serbia in this at times costly and difficult process covering the whole spectrum of the EU accession negotiations, the EU allocates 200 million euros per year to support Serbia in accomplishing the needed reforms and which are crucial for improvement of the quality of life of Serbian citizens”

The Conference concluded that in order to ensure sustainability of the joint efforts and implementation of the standards embodied in the international cooperation conventions, there is also a need for commitment of the national authorities.

Background: In the last three years, under the joint EU/CoE Horizontal Facility programme and action “Supporting Effective Remedies and Mutual Legal Assistance”, the Council of Europe has worked with Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office and Judicial Academy on creating and implementing the HELP online course on International Co-operation in Criminal Matters and strengthening capacities of prosecutors on issues related to the mutual legal assistance. 15 prosecutorial trainees and 53 prosecutors/deputy prosecutors completed the course that was adapted to the Serbian legal order and to the needs of the prosecutors in Serbia.

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