News 02/10/2017

With new agreements towards the advancement of legal cooperation between Serbia and Italy

Minister of Justice Nela Kuburovic and the Minister of Justice of Italy Andrea Orlando have signed two [bilateral] agreements on cooperation in international legal assistance between Serbia and Italy: the Agreement on Facilitating the Application of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (20 April 1959) and the Agreement on Facilitating the Application of the European Convention on Extradition (13 December 1957). Minister Kuburovic highlighted that [the signing of those agreements] would ensure a continuation of a good legal cooperation between the two ministries and that it was another testiment of the friendly relations between Serbia and Italy. She added that the international legal cooperation between the two countries had been regulated by agreements signed 90 year before and that it was necessary to update the laws. “With regards to extradition, the novelty is in the possibility for an extradition of nationals only in cases of the most serious criminal offences vis-à-vis the fight against organised crime, terrorism and corruption, and in cases of serious criminal offences for which both countries’ criminal codes prescribe a minimum sentence of five years“, Kuburovic said.

She added that the second agreement concerned the day-to-day cooperation in criminal matters, i.e. the acceleration of proceedings, exchange of information between judicial authorities, etc. She [then] stressed that the two ministries were continuing their solid cooperation and that Serbia enjoyed the full support and assistance of its Italian colleagues on its way to reforming itself and towards EU integration, as well as in meeting Negotiation Chapter 23 objectives. She explained that the greatest assistance Serbia was hoping to receive from Italy was in fighting organised crime and corruption, as those had been the priorities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

The Justice Minister stressed that Serbia was also expecting assistance with the conducting of financial investigations considering that, in November 2016, the National Assembly of Serbia had passed the Organisation and Competences of Public Authorities in Fighting Organised Crime, Terrorism and Corruption Act which implied the creation of special task forces and the conducting of financial investigations. “We equally foresee an advancement of [our] cooperation in civil law matters, primarily assistance by exchanging knowledge in the acceleration of court proceedings and alternative means of dispute resolution, bearing in mind that Italy has achieved great success in using mediation”, she noted.

The Italian Justice Minister defined the current cooperation between the two countries as strong and considerable, particularly so in the fight against corruption, organised crime, terrorism and human trafficking. [According to him,] the two Governments had worked intensively on harmonising the texts of the agreements and that, by signing the agreements Serbia was doing itself a service and was closer to joining the EU. He added that the cooperation between Serbia and Italy was not purely an operational matter, but one of political effect which granted Serbia an easier access to the EU.

Orlando also emphasised that Serbia was an important partner in all areas to Italy, especially in the legal sector where the cooperation had been excellent. During his stay in Serbia, the Italian Minister of Justice toured the Belgrade High Court Special Department of Organised Crime, visiting the courtroom bearing the name of the assassinated Italian judge Giovanni Falcone.