Introduction

It is the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia that primarily determines the status and the role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, Public Prosecutor’s Office is an independent state authority which is responsible for the prosecution of perpetrators of criminal offences and other punishable acts and which undertakes measures for the protection of constitutionality and legality. The Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office is the highest public prosecutor’s office in the Republic of Serbia. The Republic Public Prosecutor exercises jurisdiction of the public prosecutor’s office within the scope of the rights and duties of the Republic of Serbia and is responsible for the work of the public prosecutor’s office and for his/her own work before the National Assembly. Public prosecutors are held accountable for the work of the public prosecutor’s office and for their own work by the Republic Public Prosecutor and by the National Assembly whereas lower-ranking public prosecutors are also held accountable by the immediately higher-ranking public prosecutor.

The aforementioned constitutional guarantees of the independence of the public prosecutor’s office and the powers of the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Republic Public Prosecutor reflect the need to allow professional, legal and independent performance of an extremely complex and responsible function of the public prosecutor’s office, which is criminal prosecution, i.e. combating crime, as well as undertaking other measures for the protection of constitutionality and legality.

We can all bear witness to the challenges modern society is facing, whether it be classic forms of organised crime and corruption or the legacy of war crimes, new sophisticated forms of economic crime, cybercrime, human trafficking and smuggling of people, which often in their scope surpass the borders of a single state. Resolute criminal prosecution, based on the law and evidence, close co-operation and co-ordination with the police and other state authorities, as well as direct and efficient co-operation with the prosecutor’s offices and other relevant institutions of other countries constitute the prerequisites for a successful fight against all forms of serious crimes and especially against cross-border crime.

These challenges have prompted the need to modernise the organisation and the work of the public prosecutor’s office. Since 1 January 2010, a new prosecutors’ network has been established, which has introduced into the legal system appellate public prosecutor’s offices, so the system of public prosecutor’s offices today includes Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, appellate public prosecutor’s offices (in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and Kragujevac), higher public prosecutor’s offices, basic public prosecutor’s offices and prosecutor’s offices with special jurisdiction. Basic public prosecutor’s offices criminally prosecute perpetrators of criminal offences which are punishable under law by a term in prison of up to 10 years and of other criminal offences stipulated by the law, appellate public prosecutor’s offices deal with the appeals, while the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office handles cases regarding extraordinary legal remedies and directs and oversees the work of all public prosecutor’s offices. Furthermore, there are public prosecutor’s offices with special jurisdiction, the Prosecutor’s Office for Organised Crime and the Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes, which have been established for the territory of the Republic of Serbia and act in cases as the first instance and upon appeals, while the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade includes the Department for Cybercrime, which also has jurisdiction over cases it is responsible for across the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia.

Within this organisation, in accordance with the international standards and recommendations, internal specialisation has been provided for certain complex types of criminal offences where the prosecution requires special knowledge and skills in order to enable a more efficient and professional criminal prosecution of these offences by the public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors who have been specially trained for the subject matter in question. With regard to this, Anti-Corruption Department was established in 2008 within the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office whereas in 2010 the Appellate Public Prosecutors and the Higher Public Prosecutor in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Niš have formed the departments for combating corruption and money laundering and have assigned deputy public prosecutors who are to monitor the progress in cases involving the criminal offences in this area, including all of the basic and higher public prosecutor’s offices. Moreover, in 2012, contact points in cases related to human trafficking have been established in higher public prosecutor’s offices, which are to deal with and coordinate the operations in this area. Modernisation of the work, in addition to specialisation, includes embarking on new procedural trends, so the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office has signed in accordance with the international standards and recommendations a Memorandum of Understanding with the Non-Governmental Organisation ASTRA (eng. Anti-Trafficking Action), which is the first memorandum in the region signed between a public prosecutor’s office and the non-governmental sector in the field of combating human trafficking.

Finally, as a prerequisite for successful criminal prosecution, at a time when organised crime and other forms of serious crime are not contained by borders, the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office has intensified international co-operation. Direct co-operation takes place pursuant to the Memorandums of Understanding and Co-operation, through prosecutors’ networks and through direct contacts with the competent foreign authorities. Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office has signed 17 Memorandums of Understanding and Co-operation and it has been actively cooperating with judicial authorities of other states through judicial and prosecutors’ networks such as the EUROJUST, SEEPAG, the Prosecutors’ Network of the Western Balkans, as well as through direct contacts with the representatives of certain states, including the countries from this region, Europe, the USA and others. Through these contacts and co-operation the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Serbia has been recognised as a reliable and efficient partner. International co-operation has been especially commended in the report of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), "Prosecutorial Reform Index – Serbia”, in 2012.

Criminal prosecution of all forms of crimes and particularly of organised crime, corruption, war crimes, human trafficking and of other serious forms of crimes is a responsible and demanding job. Both myself, personally, as the Republic Public Prosecutor and the public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors across Serbia are absolutely committed to the professional, legal and decisive criminal prosecution. We bring all our professional, expert and personal capacity and integrity into the execution of this important task. Work results presented in the sections of the site that follow are a testament to our work and dedication. We are pleased that the effort and dedication have been recognised by our partners, such as the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, who stated in August 2012 that the way the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Serbia had dealt with difficult challenges in the fight against organised crime, corruption and war crimes served as an example to other countries in the region.

We are determined to continue, despite all the challenges, this uncompromising fight against crime, within the scope of our legal powers, in order to preserve fundamental values of our country – rule of law and securing the safety and the rights of our citizens, as well as for the purpose of meeting international standards and accession of the Republic of Serbia to the European Union. Many challenges are ahead of us, but we are determined to continue combating organised crime, corruption and other serious criminal offences in a legal, evidence-based and impartial manner, regardless of the position or power of the suspects. We expect your support on the path to achieving these goals.

The Republic Public Prosecutor

Zagorka Dolovac

The position and the role of the public prosecution service are primarily determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, public prosecution service is autonomous state  authority which prosecutes those who committed criminal and other punitive offences and which  undertakes measures for protection of constitutionality and legality. The Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office is the highest public prosecution service in the Republic of Serbia. The Republic Public Prosecutor exercises jurisdiction of the public prosecution service within the scope of powers and responsibilities of the Republic of Serbia and is responsible for the work of the public prosecution service and his/her own work to the National Assembly. Public prosecutors are responsible for the work of the public prosecution service, as well as their own work, to the Republic Public Prosecutor and the National Assembly, with the lower-ranking public prosecutors also being responsible to the immediately higher-ranking public prosecutor.


These constitutional guarantees of the autonomy of the public prosecution service and the authority of the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Republic Public Prosecutor represent an expression of need for a professional, legal and autonomous performance of extremely complex and responsible function of the public prosecution service, which  is criminal prosecution, i.e.  the fight against crime, as well as  undertaking of other measures for  protection of constitutionality and legality.

We are all witnesses to the challenges of the modern society in terms of, not only the classic forms of organised crime and corruption, but also the legacy of war crimes, new sophisticated forms of economic crime, cybercrime,human trafficking and smuggling, the proportions of which often exceed the borders of a single country. Therefore, decisive criminal prosecution, based on law and evidence, and close collaboration and co-ordination with the police and other state institutions, as well as a direct and an efficient collaboration with prosecution services and other  relevant institutions of other countries, is a prerequisite to a successful fight against all types of serious crime, especially cross-border crime.

These challenges have conditioned the need for a modernisation of the organisation and the work of the public prosecution service. Since 1 January 2010, a new prosecution network has been established which introduced appellate public prosecution offices to the legal system. Consequently, the present public prosecution system consists of the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office, appellate public prosecution offices (in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac), higher public prosecution offices, basic public prosecution offices and prosecution offices of special jurisdiction. The basic public prosecution offices criminally prosecute perpetrators of criminal offences with a prescribed sentence of maximum 10 years of incarceration and the higher public prosecution offices criminally prosecute perpetrators of criminal offences with a prescribed sentence of over 10 years of incarceration  and other criminal offences prescribed by the law. The appellate public prosecution offices аct on appeals, whilst the Republic Public Prosecution Office acts on extraordinary legal remedies, directs and supervises the work of all public prosecution offices. There are also public prosecution offices of special jurisdiction, such as the Organised Crime Prosecution Office and the War Crimes Prosecution Office , which have jurisdiction over the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia and which act both in first-instance proceedings and on appeals. Within the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, there is also a Cybercrime Department which has jurisdiction over the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia to proceed in cases within its competence.

Within this organisation, an internal specialisation was carried out in accordance with international standards and recommendations, for prosecution of certain complex types of criminal offences that demands specialised knowledge and skills. The specialisation  enabled more efficient and professional criminal prosecution of these offences, as the prosecution is undertaken by the specially trained public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors.  In this respect,  the Anti-corruption Department was formed within the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2008. In 2010, the Appellate Public Prosecutors and the Higher Public Prosecutors from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac and Nis formed departments to fight against corruption and money laundering and elected deputy public prosecutors to monitor the status of criminal cases in this area, including all basic and higher public prosecution offices. Furthermore, in 2012, the higher public prosecution offices determined contact persons for cases of human trafficking who would act and co-ordinate the work in this area.

In addition to specialisation, the modernisation of work involves the adoption of new trends. In this sense, the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office signed a Memorandum on Understanding with the NGO ASTRA, in accordance with international standards and recommendations. This Memorandum was the first one ever in the region on fight against human trafficking to be signed between a public prosecution service and the non-government sector.

Lastly, as a precondition to a successful criminal prosecution in a time when organised crime and other types of serious crimes have no borders, the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office has intensified international co-operation.  A direct co-operation  takes place on the basis of the Memoranda on Understanding and Co-operation, through prosecutorial networks and direct contacts with the relevant foreign institutions. The Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office has signed 17 Memorandums on Understanding and Co-operation and actively cooperates with justice organs of other counties through judicial and prosecutorial networks such as the EUROJUST, SEEPAG, the Western Balkan Prosecution Network, as well as through direct contacts with foreign countries’ representatives, including countries of the region, Europe, the USA and others. Through these contacts, the public prosecution service of the Republic of Serbia has been recognised as a reliable and efficient partner. In 2012, the international co-operation received particular commendation by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in its report Prosecutorial Reform Index – Serbia.

Criminal prosecution of all forms of crime, especially organised crime, corruption, war crimes, human trafficking and other serious types of crime, is a demanding and responsible job. Myself, as the Republic Public Prosecutor, the public prosecutors and deputy public prosecutors across Serbia are entirely dedicated to a professional, legal and  decisive criminal prosecution. In performing this responsible task, we put in all of our professional, expert and personal capacity and integrity. The results of our work presented below are proof of our work and commitment. We are pleased to have seen our efforts and dedication be acknowledged by our foreign partners, such as Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, who emphasised in August this year that the way in which the Serbian prosecution service responded to many difficult challenges in fighting organised crime, corruption and war crimes sets an example for other countries in the region.

We are determined to continue this uncompromising fight against crime, within the scope of our legal authority, in spite all challenges - all for the purpose of preserving the founding values of our country, namely the rule of law, providing seсurity to our citizens and protecting their rights, as well as for achieving international standards and the EU accession of the Republic of Serbia. 

There are many challenges ahead, but we are determined to fight against organised crime, corruption and other types of serious criminal offences in a legal, evidence-based and impartial manner, irrespective of the position or the power of the suspects. We expect your support on this road ahead of us.

The Republic Public Prosecutor
Zagorka Dolovac

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