Group photo

From 19 to 21 June 2014, a regional conference took place in Zlatibor in Serbia, which was jointly organised by the Serbian Constitutional Court and the IRZ. The event was entitled "The Protection of the Right to Freedom and Security and the Ban on Torture". Apart from the judges of the hosting Serbian Constitutional Court and its President Vesna Ilic Prelic, the conference delegates included the Presidents of the Constitutional Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valerija Galic, of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr Katja Senjak, of the Macedonian Constitutional Court, Elena Goseva, and of the Montenegrin Constitutional Court, Desanka Lopicic. Further delegates comprised judges of the above-mentioned courts and academic staff members of the Serbian Constitutional Court. The conference focused on an intensive exchange about the individual case laws of the delegates' countries. In addition, the former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, Dr Dieter Hömig, and the present Macedonian judge at the ECHR, Dr Lazarova Trajkovska, gave introductions into the relevant case law of their own courts.

The discussion focused on the violation of human rights by illegal orders of pretrial detention. It was unanimously criticised by the attending constitutional court judges from Southeast Europe that in many states of the region pretrial detention is ordered too fast and although no mandatory legal requirements exist and that it is substantiated in a very formulaic way. The delegates also expressed their concern about the danger of relativizing the absolute ban on torture as a consequence of voices in American literature which consider preventive torture, for instance in the fight against international terrorism, as admissible. It was pointed out with regard to the relationship to the ECHR that the Constitutional Courts of the region are aware of its decisions and also quote them in their judgements. However, this is not enough for an effective protection of the citizens' rights in this state as such legal protection is not only dependent on the Constitutional Court. Therefore it is important for the ordinary jurisdiction to follow the decisions of the national constitutional courts and the ECHR, and as the President of the Serbian Constitutional Court, Ms Vesna Ilic Prelic put it in her conclusion, it is important "for the ordinary courts to start thinking like constitutional courts".