Summary with Recommendations
e. Infrastructure Management
Most facilities are between 30 to 60 years old and have received only minimal maintenance for the last 20 years or more.The overall condition of justice sector infrastructure is very poor. The new court network brings
Serbia to the EU average of number of court locations per 100,000
inhabitants. However, most facilities are between 30 to 60 years old
and have received only minimal maintenance for the last 20 years or
more. Electrical installations in many judicial facilities are so dire that
they are unable to support much needed investments in ICT. It is
clear that significant investments in infrastructure will be required to enable the system to perform in a
manner that is consistent with European standards.
- The insufficient capacity of existing infrastructure affects service delivery. There is a lack of courtrooms in courts and interview rooms in PPOs. Poor working conditions are identified by many stakeholders as a significant reason for reduced quality of court services. Courts commonly occupy buildings designated as cultural heritage sites, which makes maintenance and renovation difficult and expensive. In addition to maintenance challenges, some buildings were not designed to be courts and do not provide a functional space. In many cases, two or three judges share a single office space and use this ‘chambers’ as their courtrooms, creating concerns for privacy and security. Despite this, existing courtrooms are not used optimally. Hearings are held only in the mornings and schedules could be tighter to maximize the use of this scarce resource. The lack of space also creates obstacle to reforms that would improve service delivery, such as the establishment of preparatory departments.
The sector lacks basic information, such as the number of facilities under its control and confirmation of their ownership.Management of judicial infrastructure is ineffective. Data are only partially available and the
system lacks basic information, such as the number of facilities
under its control and confirmation of their ownership.
Responsibilities were split between the MOJ for facilities, and the
HJC and the SPC for operating costs. This is now consolidated with
the MOJ. The MOJ’s Investment Department, which is currently in
charge, has insufficient capacity in terms of staff, skills and funding to perform its functions. At the same time, the Councils lack staff dedicated to this task and do not yet have a plan for how to build their capacity for this purpose. The disbursement rates for capital expenditures are low, and funds are routinely lost or reallocated in the supplementary budget process to meet other needs, such as payment of arrears.
Disbursement rates for capital are low, and funds are routinely lost or reallocated in the supplementary budget process to meet other needs, such as payment of arrears.There are no design standards or maintenance protocols
for courts and PPOs. This results an inadequate number, size, and
type of courtrooms and PPOs as well as inadequate access for
people with limited mobility and sub-optimal working conditions in
Recommendations and Next Steps
Conduct an inventory of all buildings in the judiciary, clarify ownership of each building and assess its current condition.122 This activity can commence in the short term and continue in the medium term for moderate costs.
- Confirm that the MOJ (and not the HJC) is responsible for maintaining the inventory and secure funding through the state budget to prepare the inventory. (MOJ, HJC, MOF – short term)
- Conduct the inventory, applying lessons from the USAID-funded JRGA project for the Misdemeanor Courts. Include basic information, such as ownership of buildings, and an assessment of conditions. (MOJ with HJC, SPC – medium term)
Based on the inventory, create an adequately-funded infrastructure plan that enables multi-year implementation. Closely monitor the implementation of the plan to ensure that budgets are fully executed in accordance with the plan.123 These items can be accomplished in the medium and long term. Overall costs for full implementation will be significant, but donors may be willing to provide support, particularly if the judiciary makes progress in the implementation of other recommendations outlined in this Review.
- Increase the capacity of the Investment Department by re-allocating staff within the MOJ (or from other ministries) and provide relevant training. (MOJ – short term)
- Develop, regularly update and continuously implement a long term investment strategy for renovation of facilities. (MOJ, HJC, SPC, with international assistance – medium to long term)
Ensure the maximum use of scarce courtrooms and investigative chambers.124 Maximizing use of courtrooms can be done quickly, without funds.
- Expand the daily court schedule to ensure that hearings take place throughout the day using facilities to their maximum capacity. (Court Presidents with Court Managers – short term)
Develop guidelines with minimum rules for design and maintenance standards for Courts and PPOs.125 An expert team or working group should develop terms of reference for developing design and maintenance guidelines. IMG developed a ‘Model Court Guideline’ that can be used as a baseline for design and operation standards. Standards for the number, size and configuration of courtrooms and chambers are needed to determine each facility’s requirements.126 The standards should reflect full use of existing space. Tasks commence in the medium term and involve moderate costs.
- Conduct a functional analysis of the current needs of users. (MOJ in coordination with HJC, SPC – medium term)
- Develop the design and maintenance guidelines. (MOJ through external consultants – medium term)
- Form an infrastructure team with appropriate background and experience representing the primary institutions to set standards for number of needed courtrooms and chambers, as well as appropriate size and configuration standards taking into account the profile of the Court/PPO and the physical limitations of each facility. (MOJ, HJC, SPC – medium term)
- Secure state and international funding support. (MOJ – long term)
Improve access to courthouses and PPOs to persons with physical disabilities.127 Improved information can be provided and initial assessments conducted in the short term at low cost.
- Provide physical layout information on court websites, including information about restrictions to accessibility. (HJC, SCC – short term)
- Conduct a campaign to raise awareness among judges and staff about access limitations for those with physical disabilities, applying lessons from the current campaign in Leskovac Basic Court. (HJC – short term)
- Assess structural impediments for persons with physical disabilities and evaluate the effectiveness of signs and markers. (MOJ – medium term)
- Improve court and prosecutor facilities to accommodate the needs of persons with physical disabilities. (MOJ– long term)