Trainings Prepare Serbian Legal Professionals for a New Criminal Procedure Code

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August 2013

Following the adoption of Serbia’s new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) in April, and in anticipation of its implementation in October, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) collaborated with Partners Serbia for Democratic Change to organize training of trainers on the code, which will gradually transform the country’s criminal justice system into an adversarial one. Led by former ABA ROLI Regional Director Robert Lochary, the trainings focused on enhancing criminal defense attorneys’ capacity to defend their clients under the new CPC.

Criminal defense attorneys discuss the state of Criminal Procedure Code reform in Belgrade.

ABA ROLI and Partners Serbia have been working together from the inception of the CPC, through its drafting and subsequent revisions, and its ultimate adoption by parliament. After the May 2012 parliamentary elections, the new government set up a working group to amend previous CPC propositions. However, the criminal defense bar, a key stakeholder in the criminal justice system, was not represented in the working group. In October 2012, ABA ROLI, Partners Serbia and the Bar Association of Serbia organized a conference to support the Serbian criminal defense bar’s advocacy efforts. More than 200 attorneys, academics and judges took part in the conference, sharing their opinions on the proposed amendments. The 2013 CPC incorporates many of the amendments proposed by members of the legal community and address many of the concerns of both local and international stakeholders.

Lochary tapped into his long experience as a prosecutor and as a judge to develop a training curriculum and train Serbian criminal defense attorneys. He consulted with bar association representatives, judges and local attorneys to cater the curriculum to the needs of the Serbian criminal defense bar.

In his meetings with Serbian judges and attorneys, Lochary learned that practitioners needed training on cross-examination more than any other skill. Accordingly, the curriculum and an accompanying trial advocacy manual heavily emphasized cross-examination skills. Lochary was also filmed giving a presentation on effective cross-examination for an e-learning program for criminal defense attorneys. Those who took part in the April training of trainers have employed the curriculum to train their peer in July and August. They will also hold additional trainings in September. ABA ROLI’s efforts to enhance the capacity of criminal defenders in Serbia are supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

To learn more about our work in Serbia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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