Serbia Justice Functional Review
External Performance Assessment > Demand for Justice Services
f. Workloads of Prosecutors
- Data availability regarding prosecution services is much more limited than for courts. In PPOs, there is no unified electronic system for case management and, as with the courts, there is no case-weighting system. As a result, it is difficult to analyze the existing workloads or the efficiency of workloads and case processing. Moreover, the prosecution service is undergoing the largest reform it has experienced since its establishment.
- The introduction of prosecution-led investigation under the new CPC is dramatically increasing the caseloads of the prosecution offices and expanding their roles and obligations. By altering the amount and nature of their work, the CPC will change how the prosecutors measure and manage their performance.
- Table 2 below outlines the caseloads in prosecution offices in 2011 and 2012.170 The number of motions for criminal investigation amounted to 331,336 by the end of 2012, an increase from 2011 to 2012 of 7.30 percent. In that period, prosecution offices worked on 11,048 new cases and handled 13,798 cases in the appeals procedure. To date, prosecution offices have rarely faced problems with backlogs. Under Serbian law, a case may remain open for more than two years with the prosecution as long as the initial motion for opening a case was filed with an investigative judge in a court or the request for additional investigation was forwarded to the police. Prosecutors are reported to ‘clear their desks’ more readily than courts because they can return more unsubstantiated cases to the police requesting further information.
- 37. With the introduction of the new CPC, approximately 38,871 cases were transferred from courts to prosecution offices. There are no statistics about the age structure of these cases. However since the prosecution is now responsible for investigations, several cases will certainly fall under the backlogged cases category. Paired with the fact that no investigative judges opted for transfer to the prosecution service, a significant pressure is put on prosecutors and deputy prosecutors.
- At the end of 2013, Serbia had 705 prosecutors and deputy prosecutors. An additional 36 deputy prosecutors were appointed to the Basic Prosecutors’ Offices in May 2014 based on the premise that workloads will increase.172 Also, the number of Basic Prosecution Offices expanded from 34 to 58 under the new court network, effective January 1st, 2014. However, no substantive investments were made in IT, equipment, or infrastructure to support the work of the newly established Prosecutor’s Offices. Therefore, many prosecutors and deputy prosecutors languish with sub-standard or insufficient equipment.
- The prosecution service now faces multiple challenges. There is not enough information to analyze performance and efficiency under the new CPC, and the prosecution service has a limited framework in which to conduct it. There is a need for more resources, but it is difficult to estimate the amount, type or where they would best be allocated. Some preliminary analysis was undertaken in late 2013 based on existing resource allocations for criminal investigations in courts. However, this was insufficient to measure objective needs. Investment in IT and case-management software is a top priority to enable the generation of more reliable information on the caseloads, performance, and efficiency of prosecution services. Analysis of these data will be critical to understanding the effectiveness of CPC implementation and identifying any corrective measures along the way.