On 23 November 2016 Serbian Parliament adopted set of judicial laws: (1) the Amendments to the Criminal Code (“Code”), (2) the Amendments to the Law on Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime, (3) the Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of State Bodies in Combating Organized crime, Terrorism and Corruption (“Law on Organized Crime”), as well as (4) the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence in the Family.
1. Amendments to the Criminal Code
The amendments to the Code represent further reform of the Serbian criminal law regulations initiated back in 2012. Although the Code is to a large extent harmonized with the standards and laws of the EU, Council of Europe and the UN, some of the documents of the above organizations called for the further adjustment.
Namely, the changes in amendments to the Code are focused on (1) minor changes in the general provisions of the Code (regarding offences of minor significance, probation, fines etc.), (2) criminal offences against economic interests and (3) criminal offences that are harmonized with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (“Istanbul Convention”).
2. Changes in respect to criminal offences against economic interests
The Code introduces new systematics of the criminal offences against economic interests while their clustering was performed according to several criteria, the most important being their similarity.
The Chapter 22 of the Code that prescribes criminal offences against economic interests now provides for 29 offenses against economic interests in total (instead of previous 25), out of which there are seven new offenses.
It is worth noting the three existing offenses have been decriminalized (abuse of authority in the economy, issuing a check and use of payment cards without coverage and customer misleading). Further to that, some of the criminal offences have changed their legal description, while others have just changed their order in the relevant Chapter of the Code.
3. Entry into force
The Code stipulates that all provision of the Code, will come into force as of 1 June 2017, except for certain provisions in general part of the Code, in order to give to state authority enough time to prepare for the full application of the Code.
As to the provisions of the new Law on Organized Crime that governs organization of state authority in relation to criminal offences against economic interests in particular, they will come into force as of 1 March 2018.