Serbia Justice Functional Review
Internal Performance Assessment > Infrastructure Management
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 judicial facilities.