Strengthening Judicial Independence & Accountability: Roundtable of the Central & Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network

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The Roundtable on “Balancing Judicial Independence and Accountability,” took place on June 6-7, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. More than 30 non-high court judges and court administrators from 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as 3 judges from the Netherlands and the United States, participated in the Roundtable.

The Roundtable looked at current challenges faced by the judiciary in Network member states and considered appropriate efforts to promote and strengthen judicial independence and accountability. Particular attention was given to the issues of independence and separation of powers, protection for judges from removal without cause, and public pressures on judges. This event was an extraordinary opportunity to exchange experiences and best practices between participants of Network member states.

This Roundtable made particular use of and reference to the Network’s own manual on international standards governing judicial Integrity, which was recently completed by members of the Network. This tool aims to serve as a useful guide to facilitate the day-to-day work of judges and judicial staff worldwide, and was formally rolled out for presentation during the meeting. You can find manual on the CEELI Institute webpage here.

The event was organized as part of the CEELI Institute’s support for its “Central & Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network” which aims to support non-high court judges and court administrators in their work to improve judicial integrity and court efficiency (for more information please click here).

Fighting Against Corruption in Tunis: Training on Foreign Accounting

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IMG_20150610_153136On June 10-12, 2015, twenty-six representatives from a wide range of Tunisian stakeholder agencies with anti-corruption responsibilities, including the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Agency, Instance Vérité & Dignité, the Finance Ministry, and the High Commission for Administrative and Financial Control, participated in CEELI’s training on forensic accounting and new tools to fight against corruption which took place at the Hotel Ramada in Tunis, Tunisia. The training was led by two international experts, Jean-Michel Ferat and Jean-Louis Herail, who both have vast knowledge and extensive professional backgrounds dealing with fraud detection, money laundering, high-level corruption, and other forms of fraud.

During the three-day training the participants got familiar with current approaches and strategies employed for the investigation and prosecution of international anti-corruption efforts. The trainers presented on how to identify, acquire, and preserve relevant information for investigation, and on the different types of forensic accounting and what the new trends of computer forensics are. The trainers also presented concrete examples of investigation of high-level corruption such as the case surrounding the UN Oil for Food Program.

The training was organized within CEELI’s multi-year program which aims to provide support and training to the newly established Tunisian Anti-Corruption Agency, Instance Nationale de Lutte Contre Corruption (INLUCC). The program is generously supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and is in partnership with the International Legal Assistance Consortium.

Training for Pro-Bono Lawyers in Burmese Regions

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In May 2015, the CEELI Institute, in partnership with Burma Center Prague, concluded another round of training for the Myanmar Lawyers Network (MLN), a group of Burmese lawyers focusing on pro-bono work. We took another step toward providing more direct support to grassroots lawyers in the region, organizing training in the cities of Pathein and Taunggyi for the first time.

The training, led by veteran lawyers and professors Tomáš Vachuda (Anglo-American University in Prague) and Allen Snyder (University of San Diego), focused on practical trial skills, as well as on the changing political and legislative environment in Burma, parallels with similar experience in Central and Eastern Europe, and the what these changes mean for the legal profession.

NGOs and the Judiciary – Watchdog Activities, Interactions, Collaboration, Communication

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Under the leadership of the Polish Institute for Law and Society (INPRIS) and with financial support from the Visegrad Fund and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The CEELI Institute is supporting the project “NGOs and the Judiciary – Watchdog Activities, Interactions, Collaboration, Communication.”

The overall goal of the project is to exchange best practices from V4 countries and Western Balkans and to increase the “watchdog”capacities of civil society in the Western Balkans.

The aim of the project is to gather and share good practices in area of cooperation between NGOs and judiciary, especially civic monitoring of the judiciary, with a focus on Western Balkan states. As NGOs are becoming more and more involved in various activities related to the judiciary (as well as cooperation projects), and many of these activities encompass various forms of monitoring, we find it extremely inspiring and beneficial to explore how this issue is addressed in other countries.

The focus of the project is on the monitoring of various civic activities including monitoring of the judiciary by NGOs (of courts’ activities, communication with citizens, judges appointments), trial observations (court watch), strategic litigation, involvement of NGOs in court trials, amicus curiae, training and workshops for judges organized by expert NGOs, collaboration of NGOs with judges‘ associations, and NGOs as organizations educating citizens in about the judiciary.

All these activities play a vital role in shaping civil society, strengthening rule of law, and strengthening democracy. Firstly, citizens via NGOs influence the judiciary through various forms of monitoring. Secondly, by becoming involved in trials and educational projects, NGOs empower the judiciary, help with building professional capacity of judges, and support the activity of courts.
Among others, six partner organizations from V4 and Balkan countries are participating in the project: Albanian Helsinki Committee (Albania), VIS IURIS (Slovakia), Coalition of Civil Associations “All for fair trials” (Macedonia), and Yucom (Serbia).