Commemorating the 50th ANNIVERSARY of the PRAGUE SPRING

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2018 marks the 50th anniversary of a brief period of liberalism, economic and social reform and democratization of Czechoslovakia, known as the Prague Spring.  In January 1968, a moderate, Alexander Dubček replaced his hard-line communist predecessor to become the Secretary of the Community Party in Czechoslovakia. His leadership marked the beginning of a new era in Czechoslovakia, even if for just a short time.

In response to economic depression and complaints that the Soviet Union was exploiting its people, Dubček launched an “Action Programme” of liberalizations. This resulted in increased freedom of press, religion, association, and travel, the rehabilitation of victims of political purges during the Joseph Stalin era, a revised constitution to guarantee civil rights and liberties, a switch of emphasis from industrial to consumer goods, possibility for a more democratic government, and a decrease in Soviet control over the country. During this new era, reporters and editors in the state-run media began to criticize socialism and enforce reform. For the first time anywhere in the Eastern Bloc, censorship was officially abolished during June 1968. Citizens of Czechoslovakia embraced the reforms, which immediately affected the activation of social and cultural life.

Fears of these reforms spread to neighboring communist countries, leading to a meeting of top Communist Party representatives from the Soviet Union, Hungary, Poland, East Germany, and Bulgaria. Collectively they issued a stern warning to Dubček, that “the situation in Czechoslovakia jeopardizes the common vital interests of other socialist countries.”

On the evening of August 20, the world saw one of the ugliest and most treacherous acts in Cold War history. Tanks rolled into the streets of Prague as military forces from the Warsaw Pact countries of the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria invaded Czechoslovakia. A half million troops sought out any “antisocialist” elements, leading to the death of 72 Czech and Slovak citizens, with hundreds more wounded. Almost all of the reforms made under Dubček were eliminated. Czechoslovakia sunk back into a repressive, somnolent state, entering a period that ironically came to become known as “normalization.”  Czechoslovak citizens turned inwards, and away from public life.

The scars of the Prague Spring would only begin to be healed years later, as the Soviet Union melted away in 1989, and the Czechs returned to the streets—this time with a more successful Velvet Revolution.

The Prague Spring continues to serve as an important lesson for the need to resist oppression in the modern day. The current rise of right-wing populism throughout central and eastern Europe finds ways of challenging democratic principles and threatens civil liberties. Movements in opposition of immigration and liberal social values and the push to delegitimize the press challenge democratic principles pushed for during the Prague Spring. As part of the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring, we should reflect on this historic event’s meaning, the perseverance of the Czech people, and the continued need to resist tyranny everywhere.

CEELI at the UN

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The CEELI Institute was honored to be invited to participate in the United Nation’s Launch of its Global Judicial Integrity Network.  The Launch, held in Vienna, on April 9-10, 2018, was a groundbreaking event attended by leaders of the world’s judiciaries and a select number of international judicial associations. The CEELI Institute was one of a handful of non-governmental organizations selected to join judges from around the globe at the event.  CEELI’s contributions to the Launch event included organizing and moderating a panel on the new professional and ethical challenges for judges raised as a result of the increasing use of social media by members of the profession.  This is a topic that CEELI has explored in depth within the context of its ongoing Central and East European Judicial Network.  For this panel, CEELI drew on the forwardleading experiences with social media by judges in the region, including practices from the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania.  In particular, we drew special attention to the efforts by the Czech Union of Judges to draft and promulgate concrete guidelines on the subject.

 

Supporting Exiled Syrian Judges

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In April, CEELI returned to Gaziantep, Turkey for further engagement with exiled Syrian judges.  This is part of an ongoing partnership that CEELI has undertaken with the Swedish based International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) to provide a lifeline to Syrian judges who have fled the conflict and are now refugees in Turkey. The hope is that this group will someday be able to return to Syria, and help to rebuild legal and judicial institutions there which have been decimated by years of conflict. In the meantime, these judges are in need of ongoing support and mentoring.  

 

The April program furthered our aim of working with the judges to develop their expertise in thematic areas relevant to post conflict settings. This most recent workshop focused on constitutional issues related to the judiciary and the provisions that typically relate to judicial independence in democratic institutions. CEELI has also worked with the judges to establish professional links with relevant organizations and associations in Europe. For these judges—stranded in limbo in Turkey—such engagements with a larger international legal and judicial communities are critical to their intellectual and professional well being. 

CEELI Launches New Anti-Corruption Compliance Training

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This year, the CEELI Institute launched a new curriculum designed to train practitioners on effective corporate compliance with international anti-corruption standards, including the operation of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the UK Anti-Bribery Law and the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).  The program is targeted at individuals who have responsibilities for advising their clients or employers on internal corporate compliance.  CEELI recognized a growing demand for such training, particularly for practitioners in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. In house advisors are increasingly required to have detailed knowledge of relevant anticorruption statutes, as well as the broader international context in which multi-national corporations must now function. Avoiding corporate liability for corrupt practices is now critical to business operation, yet many lawyers in the region have had limited experience with international anti-corruption laws and with corporate compliance mechanisms.   

 

Our initial roll out of this program was held in Prague, at the CEELI Institute, in January 2018. The program examined various situations which present corruption risks, and explained how a good compliance program is a risk-reduction tool that can help manage corruption risks and reduce the likelihood of improper conduct and violations of law.  Based on the enthusiastic participant response, we look forward to making this program a regular component of our anti-corruption program offerings. 

CEELI Program Director is a Rock Star:  Literally

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The CEELI Institute is not all work and no play.  By day, Marek Svoboda is CEELI’s Director of Programs but by night (and occasionally Saturday afternoons) Marek Svoboda is the songwriter, vocalist and guitarist/bassist/Ukulele-ist for one of the Czech Republic’s top pop bands, ILLE.  Their hit single Na druhé straně from their new album, Pohadky, has currently held the top spot on the Czech indie charts for the past five weeks! 

His band ILLE has had a strong presence of the Czech scene for some time Their first album, released in 2013, secured three nominations at the “Anděl awards” (the Czech equivalent of the Grammys) the highest number of nominations for any act that year. Their current album, releast on March 16th 2018, is a melting pot of funky guitar riffs, spacey synth melodies and haunting vocals. It brings to mind 80s synth pop fused with Folksy Indie.  

Marek was the creative force behind much of the current album and had a hand in penning many of the songs on the album. Watch the video for his song Na druhé straně here, currently leading the main Czech indie chart. 

You can check out the rest of ILLE’s music by following this multilink 

We also ask that any fan mail you may wish to send to Marek be sent to ILLE and not CEELI unless of course it’s to do with his great work promoting the rule of law. 

EU Criminal Law: Training for EU judges at CEELI

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The CEELI Institute is proud to have initiated a new effort this year, funded by the European Union, to provide much needed training for judges from the eastern countries of the EU on relevant EU law, instruments and directives governing the application of criminal lawThis project was held in Prague, but was jointly organized with our partner, the Association of Croatian Judges, and represents the first time both organizations have directly implemented European Commission funding—a milestone step for both.  The initial three program sessions held at the Villa Grebovka and delivered between February and April 2018, brought together 83 judges from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The program focused on the role of judges in ensuring that defendants in criminal cases have full access to their rights guaranteed by EU law.  The course specifically focused on application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, and the related Directives on the right to information in criminal proceedings and on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings.  The trainings were led by Judge Marin Mrčela, President of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) and Judge at the Croatian Supreme Court, and funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020). 

Watch Now: Preserving a Free Society: Governmental Power and the Rule of Law

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to announce that its Founder and Board Chair, Homer E. Moyer. recently hosted a widely broadcast panel on ‘Governmental Power and the Rule of Law,’  held in Washington DC and hosted by both the Wilson Center and the International Bar Association. The panel included perspectives from an impressive range of voices, including Senator George Mitchell, the former Peace Envoy to Northern Ireland and the Middle East,  former United States Trade Representative Carla A. Hills, and US Court of Appeal Judge, Thomas Griffith.  The panel launches the International Bar Association’s six-part series on ‘Preserving a Free Society’ which will feature former and current senior government officials and other distinguished guests discussing the rule of law.  Future panels will continue to bring a mix of perspectives on rule-of-law issues, including precisely what this oft-used phrase means, what its implications are, what practical meaning it has for public citizens and for those in government, and its importance to the institutions, traditions, and durability of free societies.

 

FULLY BOOKED! Spring session of CEELI’s Anti-Corruption Course on the Investigation and Prosecution of Public Corruption Cases

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to announce a spring session of our signature anti-corruption course on the investigation and prosecution of public corruption cases. This five-day, highly interactive training provides participants with a comprehensive framework for initiating and pursuing official corruption cases. The course will take place at the Villa Grebovka in Prague the week of April 23-27, 2018, and is designed to walk participants through the investigation of a case involving official corruption. Participants will work in small groups with a hypothetical case to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools and develop practical skills along the way. Participant efforts are augmented by expert guidance and instruction.

Over the course of five days, students will:

• Learn to identify transactional red flags and evaluate possible cases of official corruption
• Analyze publically available information to detect signs of corruption
• Develop an investigative plan and take the first steps in pursuing their proactive investigation
• Consider what documents to access—and how to get them
• Discuss how to utilize law enforcement tools to access financial records
• Consider how to acquire and use legally collected electronic evidence
• Use invoices, payment ledgers, receipts, and travel records to support the investigation
• Undertake forensic analysis of relevant financial evidence necessary to “follow the money”
• Learn techniques for effectively conducting interviews of potential witnesses and targets
• Prepare and present a summary of their investigation, supported by the necessary evidence and considering possible defenses and challenges that would be faced at trial
• Consider non-investigative measures to prevent and expose official corruption

The Institute continues to bring together the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners as faculty to design and teach this course.

We are confident that this is one of the best anti-corruption courses currently being offered. As one of the participants  noted: “This was an exceptional experience. There was complete understanding among participants, regardless of the differences between legal systems, and we all shared a mutual goal of preventing corruption through efficient and proactive investigation.“

 

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. THE COURSE HAS BEEN FULLY BOOKED.

 

More info here in the brochure below:

Download (PDF, 1.81MB)

Celebrating Five Years of Innovative Anti-Corruption Training at CEELI

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The November 2017 session of the CEELI Institute’s popular program on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption” was also a milestone, marking five years that the Institute has been offering this innovative training program.  As one UN official recently noted, the course is now considered “the best in Europe.”  Since 2013, more than 300 participants from 16 different countries, ranging from Serbia to Singapore, have completed this program.   Feedback from our participants has remained consistently enthusiastic, and our participants routinely report that their time in Prague is well spent and is beneficial in their professional work.

Participants at this most recent session included prosecutors, investigators, and NGO representatives from Armenia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine. As always, the five-day interactive program also brought together an extraordinary faculty line-up of some of the world’s foremost anti-corruption prosecutors and forensic accountants, who guided the participants through a case-based, interactive curricula using realistic case scenarios involving complex government procurements.  As part of the program, participants work throughout the week in small groups to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools along the way. Building on each previous session, participants are presented each day with additional facts, documents, information, and legal obstacles that they must confront and overcome as the evidence and case scenario become more and more complicated. The course is designed to develop and improve practical investigation skills as the participants pursue a resolution to their case, augmented by expert guidance and instruction. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics and faculty-provided mentoring to the small groups, as well as to individual participants throughout the program.

 

Strengthening Judicial Capacity to Combat Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa

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In October, the CEELI Institute continued its ongoing efforts to support judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism, with support from the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. The most recent program was designed to support judges from the Middle East and North Africa, and brought together judges and prosecutors from Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The intensive three-day exchange focused on best practices for judges adjudicating cases involving terrorism and other national security issues, with special reference to The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document based on relevant international guidance and developed under the auspices of the 30-nation Global Counter Terrorism Forum (www.thegctf.org).

The October program was held in Malta, as part of our ongoing partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org), itself a leader in counterterrorism programming efforts. Judges and prosecutors from the United States, France and the Netherlands with specialized experience in counterterrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive exchanges, using firsthand experiences, case studies, and hypothetical problems to engage the assembled group and drive the conversation.

The CEELI Institute’s judicial counterterrorism efforts represent a unique opportunity to work directly with judges who are struggling to handle terrorism cases in a region plagued by new threats and challenges. These judges are often grappling with issues of first impression involving new laws, new kinds of cases and evidence, new factual scenarios and new sentencing challenges. This program provided them an important opportunity to share experiences and good practices in addressing these key issues.

CEELI Launches New Initiative to Support Anti-Corruption Activists

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to be able to announce the launch of a new initiative to support civil society organizations, journalists and lawyers striving for greater public accountability and transparency in Central and Eastern Europe.  The project is supported by a grant from the US Department of State.  It will allow us to provide training, assistance and guidance to anti-corruption civic activists from across the region as they work to access publicly available government information, thereby highlighting and exposing official corruption.  The project will include civil society participants from the Visegrad, Baltic and Balkan regions, as well as the Eastern Partnership countries.

Official corruption is often perceived as a major factor in undermining public trust in democracy and the rule of law; public corruption strengthens oligarchies and autocracies, bolsters populist responses, undermines the rule of law and deteriorates state institutions, and weakens legal and judicial systems. This project will tackle the problem from two angles.  First, we will work to train journalists, civic advocates, lawyers and CSOs on methods of conducting research about governmental activities, on researching and collecting publicly available data and on using that data in the design of advocacy efforts aimed at promoting public accountability, including public interest litigation. Second, because successful efforts by activists often draw retaliation from powerful public officials or from the oligarchs, we will also work to equip lawyers to effectively represent bloggers, activists and investigative journalists who are exposing corruption, and who are attacked as a result of their efforts.

CEELI Launches New Judicial Tool

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to announce its newest judicial reference tool, The Addendum to the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of the Judiciary: A Thematic Compilation of International and National Jurisprudence. This document will now join the original Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of the Judiciary: The Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices as an important reference tool for judges, legislators, government officials and legal scholars. Both documents are hosted on the CEELI Institute web site, where they are available for download.

The Addendum follows the same approach as the original Manual. Whereas the original Manual focused on international instruments relevant to issues of judicial independence, integrity, accountability and function, the Addendum references similarly relevant international jurisprudence. The working group judges continued their methodological approach of cataloging the jurisprudence according to well defined thematic areas. Like the Manual, the Addendum will provides an easy to use tool for judges, legislators, policy makers and legal professionals needing quick reference guidance on how particular relevant issues have been addressed by relevant international tribunals. Both reference documents are of particular use in researching substantive legal support for issues related to the status, work, rights, and responsibilities of judges. This first version of the Addendum has focused specifically on the CODICES of the Venice Commission, but future revisions will incorporate jurisprudence from other relevant international, European and national judicial institutions.

Both the Addendum and the original Manual provide effective solutions for national systems. The Manual, to date, has proved highly useful in societies still undergoing transitions, where the judiciaries are still struggling to assert and establish their full independence, where the laws relevant to the conduct of the judiciaries are still undergoing flux, and where the standards for conduct of the judiciary are not firmly established or clarified. We expect the Addendum to serve the same purpose.

The Addendum, like the Manual was produced by a working group of judges participating in the CEELI Institute’s Central and East European Judicial Exchange Network, a project now in its sixth year of operation. That Network is comprised of some of the best and brightest rising judges from eighteen countries in the region who have come together to share best practices on issues of judicial independence, integrity, accountability, and court management. The Addendum represents an extraordinary commitment of time and effort by the working group judges. They undertook extensive independent research and editing, coming together periodically at the Institute to coordinate and collaborate on their work. We are deeply indebted to them for their commitment, skill, and insight both in the conceptualization and actualization of this project.

This project has been made possible through the generous support of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) at the U.S. Department of State.

Advising Burmese MPs on legislative reform

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Building on our four-year track record of working with human rights lawyers in Burma, the CEELI Institute has now expanded our efforts in Burma to include support for members of the Burmese Parliament who are working to reform a range of outdated or repressive legislation. Many of these MPs are former dissidents and political prisoners who are now adjusting to new roles as legislators and drafters. Progress in changing these laws and paving the way for a genuine democracy is critical to securing democratic changes in Burma.  The MPs are also increasingly aware that the results of the next general election in 2020 will be partly dependent on success in reforming repressive laws.

This project has been a logical outgrowth of our work with the human rights legal community in Burma, and our long term partnership with the Burma Center Prague (BCP).  It was through our well-established contacts with senior human rights lawyers, that the CEELI Institute and BCP were requested to initiate this effort, as lawyers we have worked with now have moved from a position of outsiders and political prisoners into positions within the legislature.  The transition is an important, but challenging one for them. The latest series of roundtables, organized by CEELI and BCP this month (December 2017) in Burma, covers strategies for a successful and efficient drafting of new laws, including cooperation with independent lawyers associations as a source of expertise and legal drafts.

This project has been possible through the ongoing support of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and more recently through additional support provided by the British Embassy in Yangon.

CEELI at Forum 2000

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15th Forum 2000 Conference, October 9–11, 2011, Prague

Forum 2000 (www.forum2000.cz) is an annual convocation in Prague, originally founded by Václav Havel, dedicated to supporting the values of democracy and respect for human rights. The Forum provides a platform for global leaders to openly debate and share thoughts on this critical issue. This year, CEELI again joined in Forum 2000’s Festival of Democracy, hosting a panel entitled “Unwinding: Rule of Law Reform in Europe Under Pressure.”  The CEELI Institute panel addressed the uneven road in transformation of post-communist countries into fully functioning and healthy democracies. With the re-emergence of political nationalism and authoritarian instincts, pro-democratic cooperation across borders is of utmost importance. This session looked at current developments as well as possible strategies of international efforts aimed at advancing the rule of law amid the current volatility. Speakers included Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the acclaimed Polish newspaper, Gazeta WyborczaMykhailo Zhernakov, a former judge, and Director of the DeJuRe Foundation (Ukraine); Jeremy Druker, Executive Director of Transitions Online (Czech Republic) and Christopher Lehmann, Executive Director, the CEELI Institute. 

The CEELI Judicial Exchange touches base in India

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The CEELI Institute is pleased to initiate a multi-year partnership with the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal, India, and the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, which will promote a series of exchanges between U.S. and Indian judges.  This effort, generously supported by the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau, will focus particularly on judges who are responsible for adjudicating complex cases involving terrorism and national security crimes. As is on our past work on this subject matter with judges from a variety of backgrounds, including the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa, the Institute will again make particular use of relevant good practice documents generated by the 30-member Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), a body which includes both India and the United States (www.thegctf.org).  Of particular relevance for framing the discussions in this effort is the Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document drafted by the GCTF with extensive international input, and reflecting relevant international standards.  The CEELI Institute is proud to have participated in the drafting of the Hague Memorandum, which was approved in plenary by the GCTF in 2015. 

The Initial exchanges under this project between Indian and American judges are now scheduled for late October 2017 in Bhopal, at the Academy, and early 2018 in Washington, at the Federal Judicial Center.  As a precursor to this effort, CEELI Institute staff accompanied Judge John Tunheim, Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota, to India in April of this year for meetings with the leadership and faculty of the Indian National Judicial Academy. Over the course of 3-days, the Institute representatives outlined plans for the exchange, toured the NJA facilities, and met with key Indian partners in both Bhopal and New Delhi.  

This project reflects the CEELI Institute’s ongoing commitment to work with judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. To date, our previous efforts have engaged judges from the Western Balkans, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Over the course of the past two years, the CEELI Institute has successfully organized four such counterterrorism conferences, with a fifth due to take place in Malta on October 11-13 of this year.  This work has resulted in the Institute amassing a diverse and talented pool of counterterrorism experts who frequently act as program faculty.  

Providing Lifelines for Syrian Judges in Exile

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In April 2018, the CEELI Institute resumed a program in partnership with the Swedish-based International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), focused on offering a professional lifeline to Syrian judges who are now in exile in Turkey but who hold on to the hope of one day returning to their country to rebuild the justice system.  Many of the exiled judges remain actively involved with international organizations that are working with refugees in Turkey, for example, by assisting with efforts to maintain basic public records of births, death, and marriages, in the absence of any formal mechanism for recording such crucial life events.  All of these Syrian judges are looking ahead to possible scenarios that might occur in Syria after the conflict ends.   

In April 2018, the Institute convened a program in Gaziantep, Turkey, to facilitate discussions among the judges and to explore core issues related to their role in the emerging post conflict society; where both the rule of law and democratic values will not be firmly established.  The special focus of this session was on constitutional issues related to the judiciary. Our goal is to promote discussion and engagement on the challenges Syrian judges face, and on the ways in which the judges can begin to prepare for their roles in an immediate post-conflict environment. The roundtable allowed us to frame priorities for further programmatic efforts, as we hope to continue and expand this work.  

At present, the Syrian judges feel cut off and removed from the larger world.  These efforts are intended to support their morale, and to also provide opportunities to engage with our networks of judges from other countries that have emerged from conflicts.  The CEELI Institute roundtable explored challenges and scenarios that took place in other countries following an armed conflict (including Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia), and the difficult work ahead, including reconstructing land and personal registries, reestablishing public administration, and regaining public trust in the judiciary. Ultimately, the success of post conflict processes in Syria will depend on the expertise and readiness of Syrian judges as actors in this effort. The effort is funded by the Swedish International Development Administration (SIDA). 

The 2017 Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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The CEELI Institute was honored to support the Seventh Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, hosted in Budapest by the Supreme Court of Hungary from June 4-7, 2017.  The Conference was originally launched in Prague, at the Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the personal commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that meets annually, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas, and work towards solutions. Front and center among this year’s discussions were the ongoing challenges to judicial independence that continue to be seen and felt across the region. 

The Conference continues to rotate between member states, and each year is hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), and Serbia (2016). The 2018 Conference will be hosted in Vilnius by the Supreme Court of Lithuania, and the 2019 Conference will be hosted in Bratislava by the Supreme Court of Slovakia.  The CEELI Institute is delighted to continue to play an active and important role in the organization and continuity of this program. 

Among the achievements of the Conference has been the signing, in 2015, of the Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement (after the seaside town in Croatia where the 2015 Conference was held). The Brijuni Statement is modeled after a similar effort undertaken by the Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, which resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in 1995. The Brijuni Statement is a reaffirmation of a long-held and shared belief amongst its signatories in judicial independence and the obligation to uphold the rule of law. The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, and the Statement has been available on the CEELI Institute website. It joins other useful legal instruments addressing judicial independence, the drafting of which have been supported by the CEELI Institute, including the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices. 

Confronting External Pressures on the Judiciary in Central and Eastern Europe

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The CEELI Institute continues to be deeply engaged with judiciaries of Central and Eastern Europe, primarily through our ongoing Network of rising young judges, now entering its sixth year of programmatic activities and efforts.  The young judges are increasingly concerned about coping with the external pressures—political, social, media—that work to undermine judicial independence in the region. Recent legislative interference with the judiciary in Poland has been well reported, but disturbing trends are reported across the region. With knives out for judges across the region, they are also keen to pay greater attention to ethical issues, and to avoid conflicts and ethical pitfalls that have caught up with some of their peers. In September the CEELI Institute organized several events to address the increasing pressures on judges, and how to cope with them. 

These included a workshop on judicial ethics at the Institute’s Villa Grebovka in Prague, which provided the judges with a framework for dealing with external pressures, and for analyzing and resolving ethical issues that may arise in the course of judicial work. We were particularly fortunate to be joined for this program by Judge Anthony Scirica of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the leading American jurists on these issues, who is also currently Chair of the US Judicial Conference’s Committee on Judicial Conduct.  

On September 25th the Institute organized another in its continuing series of webinars on judicial issues, this one focused on the Freedom of Expression of Judges, and led by renowned Czech expert, David Kosar. Head of the Judicial Studies Institute (JUSTIN) at the Law Faculty of Masaryk University. Issues of judicial expression are much less settled in the CEE region than in the US; the webinar explores the limits on a judge’s freedom to express his or her personal opinion and convictions during exercise of judicial duties in the courtroom, as well as extra-judicially (for example in social media, which, unlike the US, is a common communication platform for many judges in the region).  

September also saw the CEELI Institute again supporting the Association of Croatian Judges in their organization of their third annual international conference focused on the issue of public trust in the judiciary.  The program (held in Zadar, 22-23 September) brought together 90 judges from Europe and beyond to discuss how to build public trust in the judiciary by improving professional skills, improving effective access to justice and improving communication through new media.  

The CEELI Institute is grateful to the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau on International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) for its ongoing funding of our work with judges in the region. 

Partnering with the Association of Croatian Judges

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to announce its new joint partnership with the Association of Croatian Judges in delivering continuing legal education programs for judges from the Czech Republic, Croatia and other EU member states.  The project, funded by the European Commission’s Justice Directorate, is designed to strengthen judicial respect and protections for the legal rights of defendants in criminal proceedings. The project will promote greater understanding among EU judges charged with applying the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights in the field of criminal justice, and will specifically address the right to information in criminal proceedings (Directive 2012/13/EU), and the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings (Directive 2013/48/EU).   

This effort is particularly significant because it is designed to make language accommodations for non-English speaking judges from both Croatia and the Czech Republic, and thereby directly address issues of under application of EU criminal justice standards and guarantees in some national courts.  The partnership on this project with the Association of Croatian Judges is a natural extension of their long cooperative relationship with the CEELI Institute that has included participation of Croatian judges, both as participants and as faculty, at numerous Institute programs, as well as collaboration by the Institute and the Association to conduct an ongoing series of international judicial conferences in Croatia. 

2017 Conference of Chief Justices of Central & Eastern Europe –Budapest, Hungary, June 4-7, 2017

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The CEELI Institute was delighted to again join in supporting the Seventh Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, hosted in Budapest by the Supreme Court of Hungary from June 4-7, 2017.  The Conference itself was launched in Prague, at the Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that meets annually in one of the countries represented, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas, and work towards solutions. Front and center among this year’s discussions were the ongoing challenges to judicial independence that continue to be seen and felt across the region.

The Conference continues to flourish and since its inception has rotated between member states, each year hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Chief Justices from Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), and Serbia (2016). The 2018 Conference will be hosted in Vilnius by the Supreme Court of Lithuania.  The CEELI Institute is delighted to continue to play an active and important role in the organization and continuity of this program.

Among the achievements of the Conference has been the signing, in 2015, of the Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement (after the seaside town in Croatia where the 2015 Conference was held). The Brijuni Statement is modeled after a similar effort undertaken by the Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, which resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in 1995. The Brijuni Statement is a reaffirmation of a long-held and shared belief amongst its signatories in judicial independence and the obligation to uphold the rule of law. The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, and the Statement has been available on the CEELI Institute website. It joins other useful legal instruments addressing judicial independence, the drafting of which have been supported by the CEELI Institute, including the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices.

Strength in Diversity: CEELI Expands Its Institutional Partnerships Across Europe

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In February, the CEELI Institute staff was delighted to welcome the leadership of the highly respected Italian organization, the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, for in-depth meetings on future program collaboration and engagement. The CEELI Institute greatly values our increasing roster of programmatic partnerships with institutions across Europe. These collaborations are important in helping us to expand both the quality and scope of our programs. Institutional partnerships allow the participating organizations to tap into a deeper pool of experts, a greater diversity of participants and an increased level of substantive expertise. The staff collaboration and interactions that accompany partnerships encourage consideration of different perspectives and facilitate creative thinking about program design and delivery. Other recent joint efforts have involved programs organized in partnerships with the Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, based in Valletta, Malta, and the Judicial Studies Institute, at Masaryk University, in Brno, Czech Republic.

CEE Judges Take on Corruption

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In January, the CEELI Institute hosted the latest meeting of our Central and East European Judicial Exchange Network, comprised of some of the best and brightest young judges from eighteen countries in the region who have come together to share their best practices on issues of judicial independence, integrity, and accountability. This project is funded through a generous ongoing grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (NL). The program focused on supporting judicial efforts to combat corruption both within and without the profession. In addition to examining issues of transparency in the conduct of the judicial profession, participating judges also examined issues related to the adjudication of corruption cases, including the unique evidentiary issues presented in such cases and the need for judges to understand complex financial documents and testimony by experts versed in forensic accounting techniques. The judges also used the meeting as an opportunity to continue updates to Network‘s The Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A Thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices. The Manual represents a systematic effort to survey relevant international standards applicable to the judiciary, and is now in wide use by courts across the region. The Manual provides easily accessible, substantive legal support for issues related to the status, work, rights, and responsibilities of judges. It has proved useful to judges who are pushing back against governmental infringements on their functions.

 

CEELI Judicial Manual Put to Work in Drafting the Georgian Judicial Strategy

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The CEELI Institute is pleased to report that it’s Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice continues to be put to good use by judicial practitioners across the region. Most recently, our colleagues in the Republic of Georgia report that the Manual was used extensively by the High Council of Justice in the process of drafting Judicial Strategy for Georgia for 2017-2021. They note that the Manual was one of the guiding documents used in determining the main directions of the judicial strategy and the content of the strategy‘s sub-chapters. As one of the judges noted, the drafters and researchers appreciated the flexibility of the manual and the availability of a keyword system that facilitated the research. The CEELI Manual represents a systematic effort to survey relevant international standards applicable to the judiciary, and provides easily accessible, substantive legal support for issues related to the status, work, rights, and responsibilities of judges.

Voices of the Next Generation: Bringing Change to the Middle East

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to be able to announce the continuation of its groundbreaking program bringing together young lawyers from the Middle East to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role that international law can play in its resolution. This program has been generously supported by the International Bar Association for a second year. The program extension will allow us to continue to bring together the diverse group of young lawyers on a quarterly basis at the Institute in Prague, during which participants are able to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine. This program was highlighted last year at the IBA’s annual Rule of Law Forum, in Washington, for an audience of over 300 people, where the young lawyers themselves spoke of the unusual nature of the project and their personal experiences as participants in this kind of dialogue.

The Israeli, Arab, and American mentors who conceived, organized, and facilitated this project will continue to facilitate it, augmented by a roster of experienced former diplomats and negotiators who have dealt with the complex issues that plague the region. We expect the group to continue to address how international law can help lead to potential solutions and compromises, which could bring about change in one of the most persistent conflicts and gravest threats to the rule of law in the world.

Supporting Judges Who Deal with Terrorism Cases

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In March, the CEELI Institute continued its ongoing efforts to support judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism, with support from the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. The most recent program was designed to support judges from the Western Balkans and brought together judges and prosecutors from seven Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. These countries continue to be on the front line of European counterterrorism threats, as they sit directly abreast of the main transit routes for Syrian and other refugees, and see first-hand the phenomenon of returning foreign terrorist fighters. The intensive three-day exchange focused on useful practices for judges adjudicating cases involving terrorism and other national security issues, with special reference to The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document based on relevant international guidance and developed under the auspices of the 30-nation Global Counter Terrorism Forum (www.thegctf.org).

The March program was held in Prague, and we again welcomed a representative from the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org), a valuable CEELI partner on our counterterrorism programming efforts. Judges from the United States and Germany with specialized experience in counterterrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive exchanges, using firsthand experiences, case studies, and hypothetical problems to engage the assembled group and drive the conversation. Valuable regional insights were provided by a Brussels-based counterterrorism expert from Slovenia. Additional contributions were provided by the US Department of Justice’s Resident Legal Advisors from Turkey and the US European Command (Stuttgart), both career prosecutors.

The CEELI Institute’s judicial counterterrorism efforts represent a unique opportunity to work directly with judges who are struggling to handle terrorism cases in a region plagued by new threats and challenges. These judges are often grappling with issues of first impression involving new laws, new kinds of cases and evidence, new factual scenarios and new sentencing challenges. This program provided them an important opportunity to share experiences and good practices in addressing these key issues. The judges were highly motivated and engaged.
The next stage of this project will involve a similar program for judges in the Middle East/North Africa region, to be held in fall 2017. We are also working on developing a case management tool/checklist we hope will serve as a universally applicable tool for judges who will be overseeing complicated terrorism cases in the future.

 

Save the Date! The CEELI Institute Annual Meeting: July 9-10, 2017

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Mark your calendars to join us in Prague, at the Villa Grebovka, on July 9-10, 2017 for the CEELI Institute‘s Annual Meeting. Once again we look forward to bringing together a diverse cross-section of academicians, government officials and experts, as well as our board members, funders, partners, and friends, to discuss some of the most pressing issues we face in our efforts to advance the Rule of Law in ever more challenging environments. The gathering allows us the opportunity to convene prominent thought leaders from the international development community for frank discussions on the critical challenges facing our region as it struggles with war, corruption, and the rise of illiberal regimes which question the value of democratic transitions. The program will focus not just on problems, but on solutions: What are effective strategies for delivering development assistance and supporting civil society in the face of hostile environments and government repression?

All events will be held at the Villa Grebovka, in Prague. We have limited accommodations for up to 38 guests at the Villa. Since space is limited, if the number of guests exceeds the Villa’s capacity, we will help arrange nearby hotel rooms.

Registration is now open on the CEELI Institute’s website at: http://ceeliinstitute.org/registration-for-the-2017-annual-meeting

Password: prague_2017

SPRING COURSE IS FULLY BOOKED: The CEELI Institute´s Spring Course on Investigating and Prosecuting Public Corruption – April 24-28, 2017 – Prague

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AC picThe CEELI Institute is delighted to announce a spring session of our signature anti-corruption course on the investigation and prosecution of public corruption cases. This five-day, highly interactive training provides participants with a comprehensive framework for initiating and pursuing official corruption cases. The course will take place at the Villa Grebovka in Prague the week of April 24-28, 2017, and is designed to walk participants through the investigation of a case involving official corruption. Participants will work in small groups with a hypothetical case to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools and develop practical skills along the way. Participant efforts are augmented by expert guidance and instruction.

Over the course of five days, students will:

• Learn to identify transactional red flags and evaluate possible cases of official corruption
• Analyze publically available information to detect signs of corruption
• Develop an investigative plan and take the first steps in pursuing their proactive investigation
• Consider what documents to access—and how to get them
• Discuss how to utilize law enforcement tools to access financial records
• Consider how to acquire and use legally collected electronic evidence
• Use invoices, payment ledgers, receipts, and travel records to support the investigation
• Undertake forensic analysis of relevant financial evidence necessary to “follow the money”
• Learn techniques for effectively conducting interviews of potential witnesses and targets
• Prepare and present a summary of their investigation, supported by the necessary evidence and considering possible defenses and challenges that would be faced at trial
• Consider non-investigative measures to prevent and expose official corruption

The Institute continues to bring together the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners as faculty to design and teach this course.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION

To reserve a place or for more information, please email Barbora Jungova at bjungova@ceeli-inst.org or call +420 606 617 643

2,450 USD – Full course and materials with lodging. Breakfast, lunch, and refreshments included.
1,900 USD – Full course and materials without lodging. Lunch and refreshments included.

Supporting the Work of the CEELI Institute

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Dear Friend of the CEELI Institute,

In 2016, the work of the CEELI Institute in advancing the rule of law continued to change individual lives, and through them, the world. Over the past year, for example, CEELI brought young Israeli and Palestinian lawyers together to sit side by side to discuss their challenges and hopes for the future; for most, such an opportunity was unprecedented. As one young Israeli lawyer said at the outset, “before this I had never met a Palestinian.”

When defense lawyers in Eurasia received death threats for their work, CEELI was there to offer them shelter and respite.

A young prosecutor from the Balkans who participated in our intensive anti-corruption training reported that “my skills for investigating frequent acts of corruption have been greatly enhanced; this is the real armor I needed to move the world in a new direction.” And in Bosnia, a young judge being punished for her independence pushed back against an arbitrary reassignment by using CEELI tools that gave her fast access to the relevant international standards.

The CEELI Institute’s work is now reaching more people, in more countries, than ever before. At a time when democratic principles and human rights are under increasing attack, Institute programs advance the rule of law, protect fundamental rights and individual liberties, promote judicial independence, set the standard of excellence in anti-corruption training, and provide world-class, interactive training and skills development to legal professionals

The future of the Institute is exciting, and we are poised to build on our achievements. To continue these efforts, we need your support. The annual contributions of our supporters are critical to our efforts to advance the rule of law in the world. Tax deductible contributions should be made to: The Friends of the CEELI Institute, c/o Homer Moyer, 900 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006.

My sincere thanks for your continuing support for this important work.

With warmest regards,
homer-signature

Homer Moyer

Training on Investigation and Prosecution of Official Corruption, April 25-29, 2016


2016 HIGHLIGHTS: THE CEELI INSTITUTE

  • Voices of the Next Generation Bringing Change to the Middle East: CEELI and the International Bar Association partnered to organize a ground breaking program bringing young Israeli and Palestinian lawyers together for successive visits over the course of the year to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine. The depth of the participant exchange and engagement exceeded all expectations, and we hope to continue this endeavor in the year ahead.
  • Continued Leadership in Providing Innovative Anti-Corruption Training: CEELI’s intensive, interactive training sessions on investigation and prosecution of public corruption continued to draw wide participation from across the region and beyond.
  • Providing a Lifeline for Lawyers in Distress: The legal profession itself remains under distress in many countries of the region. Our programs continued to bring lawyers together to discuss current challenges to the independence of their profession, mechanisms for maintaining the rule of law, strategies for providing access to counsel and for questioning repressive laws, and tools for using international law as a check on repressive domestic actions. We also provide respite stays to those under the most severe pressures.
  • Sustaining the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe: CEELI founded and continues to nurture this annual meeting of the region’s top judges, now in its sixth year. Their 2015 Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary continues to be a groundbreaking document on behalf of judicial independence across the region. The Supreme Courts of Hungary and Lithuania are already in line to host the 2017 and 2018 sessions.
  • A New Core Competency for CEELI – Support for Judges Adjudicating Complex, High-Profile Cases, Including Terrorism Trials: CEELI launched several new efforts this year to provide judges in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with guidance on how to handle these difficult and challenging cases. CEELI is one of a handful of NGOs leading the way in this emerging field.
  • CEELI Judicial Tools and Standards Garner Wide Attention: CEELI’s practical tools for judges, including its Manual on Judicial Independence, continue in wide use across the continent, helping judges deal with their day-to-day challenges, especially in countries where the judicial profession is under renewed assault.
  • New Curricula for Young Lawyers: CEELI continued to provide tailored training for young lawyers from countries as diverse as Iran and Burma on issues ranging from advocacy skills to international law and transitional justice.
  • New Partners, New Regions – Expanding our Base of Grantors: Looking forward to 2017, the Institute will begin working with USAID funded efforts to support lawyers in Azerbaijan, and to promote judicial engagements in India and in Pakistan.
  • A Record Year by the Numbers: In 2016 CEELI reached its widest audience ever, engaging over 1200 participants from more than 40 countries in over 60 individual programs.

Anti-Corruption Programs at the Institute: Fall Course Wrap-up

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vol_5325From November 14th-18th, 2016 the CEELI Institute organized its sixth round of training on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption.” The interactive five-day program brought together an extraordinary faculty line-up consisting of some of the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners including Andrew Levchuk, former DoJ officer and current counsel to Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP, Jagvinder Brar and Michael Peer, forensic accountants with KPMG, and John Griffith, Associate General Counsel in the Office of Global Compliance at Weatherford. Together they provided participants with a comprehensive framework for investigating and prosecuting official corruption.

The program was attended by 32 prosecutors, investigators, and judges from six countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine – as well as a number of observers including representatives from US embassies across Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. The program uses carefully designed, case-based interactive curricula reliant on practical case scenarios as learning tools, demanding participants to take an active role throughout the workshop. As one of the participants noted, “This was a great program. It allowed us to compare tools and methods against corruption in different countries and allowed to get practical skills for the investigation of such cases.”

Participants worked in small groups to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools along the way, and ultimately making a recommendation to the larger conference on whether this was a case they would pursue to prosecution or not. With each session, participants were presented with additional facts and legal obstacles to confront and overcome as the fact patterns became more complicated. The course is designed to develop and improve practical skills as the participants pursue the investigation, augmented by expert guidance and instruction. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics. Our highly experienced faculty provided mentoring to the small groups, as well as one-on-one mentoring throughout the program.

Letter from the Executive Director

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lehmann-cropped-media-photoThe CEELI Institute has long been a leader in innovative and effective judicial programming. We continue to work with judges from around the world, through programs designed to promote judicial independence, strengthen judicial accountability and improve judicial performance. We also provide a unique venue to foster judicial exchanges and engagement, in a safe, comfortable and neutral setting at our headquarters in Prague. As a result of our almost two decades or work, the CEELI Institute maintains deep connections with the judiciaries of the region and beyond. Among our representative projects for 2017 will be our continued support for the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, to be hosted next year by the Supreme Court of Hungary.

We also continue to develop and provide useful tools for the judiciary, including our comprehensive Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice, now a key reference source for judges needing to identify the international standards underlying commonly asserted principles of judicial independence. Our work in developing the Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, now adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe remains an important reaffirmation of regional commitments to judicial independence and the rule of law—and is more important than ever in a time of increasing threats to the independence of the judiciary across the region.

CEELI Develops Tools for Judges

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manualThe CEELI Institute continues its work with its core working group of judges from across Central and Eastern Europe to revise, expand and edit the Institute’s Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice. The Manual is a unique tool, representing a systematic survey of virtually all relevant international standards applicable to the function, performance and operation of the judiciary. It cross-references over 130 international conventions and other sources of public international law, organizing relevant sources according to thematic categories of interest and use to judges in their work. The tool is, in short, a map to the judicial profession and the international standards that underpin it. The Manual represents an extraordinary commitment of time and effort by the Working Group judges, who undertook extensive independent research and editing, and who continue to come together periodically at the Institute to coordinate and collaborate on their work. It is already being widely used and referenced in the region. It is particularly useful in societies still undergoing transitions, and where the judiciaries are still struggling to assert and establish their full independence. We are currently planning an appendix to the Manual, which will index additional relevant materials, including jurisprudence and judicial opinions from international fora such as the European Court of Human Rights.

Supporting the Croatian Judiciary: Facilitating Attention to and Adoption of European Jurisprudence

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img_20160930_141240-002In late September, the CEELI Institute was again be able to support the efforts of the Croatian Judiciary as it grapples with challenges related to the independence and impartiality of justice—both of which continue to be under challenge in the region. Content of the program was particularly framed around Opinion No. 18 of Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) addressing “the position of the judiciary and its relation with other powers of state in a modern democracy.” Discussions were further augmented by reference to relevant case decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the concepts of impartiality and independence articulated and defined therein. Such discussions are particularly relevant in the region, as working level judges are not, contrary to common assumption, well versed in the broader jurisprudence of the EU or the COE, or its application and relevance to their daily work.

The program, organized in cooperation with the Croatian Association of Judges, the University of Zadar, and the US Embassy in Zagreb, was attended by over 70 judges from Croatia and from other countries across the region.

Empowering Tunisian Judges

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The CEELI Institute is continuing its long work with the Tunisian judiciary, now focusing on a selected group of the most proactive judges from the sessions conducted over the past three years (2013-2015). This new phase of our engagement addresses public trust in the judiciary – a topic selected by the judges themselves. The participating judges have prioritized several aspects crucial for public trust in the judiciary, including relationship with the media, and greater outreach and educational programs for university and high school students. The judges are also committed to work on a judicial code of conduct, which they recognize will be helpful tool in garnering public trust. CEELI has worked with the judges to create relevant working groups, and to develop their plans for action outlining steps they can realistically take at the level of individual courthouses. This current effort is complementary to some of the ongoing efforts of the Tunisian judicial associations and institutes. CEELI hopes to encourage examples of individual initiative on the part of judges, with the aims of achieving concrete results and setting good practice examples in a format accessible to other Tunisian judges who are willing to work proactively and positively influence their professional environment.

The current efforts build on the CEELI Institute’s work with Tunisian judges since 2013, in cooperation with the Swedish based International Legal Assistance Consortium. In coordination with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, CEELI has engaged over 800 Tunisian judges through our workshop, “Judging in a Democratic Society”. That program focused on the role of a judge and the legal and social changes brought by democratic transformation, and also employed the expertise of judges from Central and Eastern European countries that have themselves negotiated the difficult transition from a totalitarian state to democracy.

Judges and the Media

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pep_7712-minAn increasingly important aspect of the CEELI Institute’s continuing engagement with judiciaries across the region involves exploration of the relationships between the judiciary and the media. Discussions and materials addressing this topic is in high demand among judges who are faced with increasing media pressures, especially while handling political sensitive cases and high level corruption cases. Judges must also increasingly negotiate the potential pitfalls surrounding the use of social media platforms. Judges are concerned about their rights to privacy in an age of increasing media attention, and are also unclear on where the boundaries should be set in dealing with the press. They are also challenged in balancing the public’s interest against the rights of the parties before the court. The CEELI Institute has been honored to work with an increasingly diverse cadre of experts in this field, to explore these critical issues. We also work to foster communication skills of courts and judges in dealing with the public, and in responding to outside scrutiny. These issues are increasingly incorporated into many of the judicial programs now organized by the Institute.

Promoting Judicial Independence in Central and Eastern Europe

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cj-mac-cro-clAs part of our continuing engagement with the judiciaries from across the Central and East European region, the CEELI Institute recently co-sponsored an event, in cooperation with the Supreme Court of Macedonia addressing the ongoing challenges to judicial independence across the region—both within and without the EU. The program, held in late October, at Lake Ohrid, drew over 70 participants, including judges from Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and Slovenia. The event provided a critically important platform for judges to exchange views and experiences in how best to respond to increasing external pressures on the judiciary. Particular attention was devoted to how judges can most effectively cope with pressures from the media, from the government and from external political sources, without compromising their integrity. For judiciaries still emerging from communist past, these issues have never been fully resolved. Judges in the region must continue to grapple with balancing their accountability and independence. This event was also generously supported by the US Embassy in Skopje and by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL).

Supporting Judges on the Front Lines in Combating Terrorism

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group-shot-malta_nov-director-thinks-conflicted-copy-2016-11-21In October, the CEELI Institute continued its ongoing efforts to support judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism, with support from the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. This latest program brought together judges from the Middle East and North Africa–specifically, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Lebanon–along with judicial counterparts from the US and Germany for the intensive three day exchange on useful practices for judges faced with adjudicating cases involving terrorism and national security issues. Our program curriculum again followed the format we developed for previous trainings provided to judges and prosecutors in the Western Balkans, relying on The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document based on relevant international guidance and developed under the auspices of the 30-nation Global Counter Terrorism Forum (see www.thegctf.org).

The October program was organized in Malta, in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org). Judges from the United States and Germany with specialized experience in counter-terrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive participant exchanges, using real case studies, Socratic tools and hypothetical problems. We were gratified by the enthusiastic response and intense level of participant participation in the program. Participants were eager to share their experiences, ask questions of one another, and explore ways in which they could implement effective changes in their countries’ counter-terrorism adjudication practices. As this program continues, CEELI looks to build on the relationships it has established in working with these first two groups of judges in the MENA and Balkan regions. Additional workshops will be held in 2017 for judges from both regions – updated and improved with feedback from the previous sessions. In addition, a non-state-specific case management tool/checklist is already in the preliminary stages of development with the idea being to create a universally applicable tool for judges who will be overseeing complicated terrorism cases in the future.

Justice Kennedy Joins CEELI/IBA Event

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img_4524The CEELI Institute was delighted to join with the IBA in hosting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on September 23, in Washington, DC, at the IBA Rule of Law Forum. CEELI Institute Founder and Board Chair Homer Moyer moderated a discussion with the Justice on issues related to the role of the judiciary, the meaning of the Rule of Law, and the application of international law as a reference point for the Court. The Justice also took questions from the audience.  It was an inspirational and informative session, and we were thrilled to be a part of it.

NGOs as Judicial Watchdogs: A New Report and Recommendations

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visegradThe CEELI Institute is gratified to have participated in the preparation of a landmark effort to promote and define the role of NGOs in monitoring court proceedings and the function of the judiciary. The final project report, NGOs and the Judiciary: Watchdog Activities, Interactions, Collaboration, and Communication, was recently published by the Warsaw based Polish NGO, the Institute for Law and Society (INPRIS).

The publication represents the culmination of a two-year effort, funded by the International Visegrad Fund (www.visegradfund.org) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. The CEELI Institute was one of six key NGOS contributing to this effort, along with counterparts in Poland, Slovakia, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia.

The report establishes key recommendations and good practice guidance for civil society organizations that are engaged in monitoring of the judiciary and judicial function. The recommendations have general applicability well outside the context of Central and Eastern Europe, and are models for NGO watchdog activities, and for NGO interaction with the judiciary.

The recommendations emphasize the important role that NGOs and civil society play in assuring the transparent and effective operation of the judiciary, the need for cooperative engagement by NGOs and courts in the process of judicial monitoring, the role of NGOs in judicial training and education, and the need for NGOs to engage in shaping and informing public debate and discourse on the operation and reform of the judiciary.

The full report is available on the INPRIS website: http://www.inpris.pl/en/whats-going-on-at-inpris/article/t/publikacja-inpris-organizacje-obywatelskie-a-sadownictwo/. The report is also available for download on the CEELI Institute website: http://ceeliinstitute.org/annual-reports/

CEELI at The Hague: An Update on CEELI Judicial Tools

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cristi-at-hagueCEELI Institute Executive Director Christopher Lehmann and Judge Cristi Danilet from Romania recently led a panel at the Annual Conference of the International Association of Administrative Courts (IACA) held in the The Hague in May, where they were asked to present the CEELI Institute’s The Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice. The Manual is a unique tool, representing a systematic survey of virtually all relevant international standards applicable to the function, performance and operation of the judiciary. It cross-references over 130 international conventions and other sources of public international law, organizing relevant sources according to thematic categories of interest and use to judges in their work. The tool is, in short, a map to the judicial profession and the international standards that underpin it. The Institute is deeply grateful to the young judges from Central and Eastern Europe who worked so hard to bring the Manual to publication.  The Manual represents an extraordinary commitment of time and effort by the judges, who undertook extensive independent research and editing, coming together periodically at the Institute to coordinate and collaborate on their work. It is already being widely used and referenced in the region. It is particularly useful in societies still undergoing transitions, and where the judiciaries are still struggling to assert and establish their full independence.

The IACA special session was dedicated exclusively to the us of the Manual and was attended by an audience of over 70 international practitioners and judges. The Manual can be found on the CEELI Institute website: http://ceeliinstitute.org/judicial-manual/

US and Pakistani Judges Meet at the CEELI Institute

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dsc00863The CEELI Institute was delighted to recently welcome our first-ever delegation from Pakistan. In late August, the US Embassy in Islamabad (INL), the US Department of Justice (OPDAT) and the US Federal Judicial Center organized a joint exchange at the Institute bringing together Judges of the Lahore High Court (Punjab Province) and the US federal judiciary for several days of in-depth dialogue on issues of case management and court administration.  Among those participating in the discussions was Federal Judicial Center Director, Judge Jeremy Fogel.

Voices of the Next Generation: Bringing Change to the Middle East

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Over the past year, the CEELI Institute and the International Bar Association (IBA) partnered to organize a ground breaking program bringing together young lawyers from the Middle East to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role international law can play in resolving this conflict. This diverse group of young lawyers has met quarterly at the Institute in Prague for a series of three-day meetings, during which participants came to know one another, and employed communication techniques that enabled them to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine.

On Friday, September 23, in the context of the IBA’s annual Rule of Law Forum, in Washington, the two organizations co-hosted a panel that examined, for an audience of over 300 people, this unusual process and the experiences of some of the young lawyers who participated in this dialogue. The Israeli, Arab, and American mentors who conceived, organized, and facilitated these discussions also shared insights about what they observed and learned from their engagement in the project. Together with a panel of experienced former diplomats and negotiators who have dealt with the complex issues that plague the region, the group addressed how international law can help lead to potential solutions and compromises, which could bring about change in one of the most persistent conflicts and gravest threats to the rule of law in the world.

Belgrade: The 2016 Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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chief-justices-smaller-gox_6519_resizeThe CEELI Institute was delighted to again support the work of the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, which was hosted in June of this year, in Belgrade, by the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia.  The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that has met annually since its inception in 2011, allowing the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas and work towards solutions. This year saw two additional signatories—Serbia and Georgia– to the Conference’s Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement (due to its original drafting and signing in 2015 at the Croatian seaside town of Brijuni).  That statement reaffirms regional commitments to judicial independence and the rule of law—and is more important than ever in a time of increasing threats to the independence of the judiciary across the region. The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, which is available on the CEELI Institute website. We very much look forward to next year’s Conference, to be hosted by the Supreme Court of Hungary.

CEELI at Forum 2000

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forum-2000Forum 2000 (www.forum2000.cz) is an annual convocation n Prague to honor the legacy of Václav Havel by supporting the values of democracy and respect for human rights. The Forum provides a platform for global leaders to openly debate and share thoughts on this critical issue. This year, CEELI will join Forum 2000 as a program organizer, hosting a panel entitled “Good on Paper: Weakening of Rule of Law in the Postcommunist Region?” The CEELI Institute panel will focus on the increasingly frequent attempts by various state actors across the region to weaken or bend the rule of law and mandates of institutions for political means, to set their agenda from the outside and to interfere with judicial independence by executive influence. Panel participants will include views from Russia (St. Petersburg-based lawyer Sergey Golubok), Poland (Warsaw lawyer Marcin Matczak) and the Czech Republic.  The event will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 6pm at the European House in Prague.

CEELI Institute Annual Meeting 2016 Wrap-Up

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VOL_2832The Villa Grébovka was packed with friends and colleagues from around the world for the Institute’s Annual Meeting on June 26th-28th, 2016. Board members, faculty, donors, former CEELI alums, and many more friends and colleagues came together in Prague for an opportunity to review our efforts over the past year, and to look ahead to programs for the coming year. This year’s meeting focused particularly on the ongoing challenges involved in delivering assistance in environments that are experiencing deliberate repression of civil society. Attention was given not just to the problems, but to possible solutions, including examination of effective strategies for delivering development assistance and supporting civil society in the face of hostile environments and government repression.

We were particularly delighted this year to welcome the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, the Hon. Andrew Schapiro, to speak about the embassy’s on-going efforts to promote anti-corruption initiatives in the Czech Republic. Ambassador Schapiro praised the Institute’s continued efforts across the spectrum of its programming and fielded some excellent questions on the perception of the US government’s efforts in Prague and across the rest of the country.

The Annual Meeting was rounded out with panels that highlighted current CEELI projects, including overviews of the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, and of our on-going anti-corruption courses. Two themed panels addressed Civil Society Organization in Crisis: Strategies for Support and Strategic Lawyering: The Role of Lawyers in Responding to Active Repression of Civil Society and Human Rights. As per usual, the panels proved to be the highlight of the meeting as the Institute welcomed an incredibly impressive array of speakers including Alina L. Romanowski, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, Nadia Diuk, Vice President, National Endowment for Democracy, recently released political prisoner and human rights lawyer Rasul Jafarov from Azerbaijan, and Nicola Macbean, Executive Director of The Rights Practice in London.

The event wound down with a cocktail reception at the Villa Grebovka where guests and panelists continued discussions on pertinent issues raised throughout the day. CEELI Institute staff is ever grateful and humbled by the turn-out and support from friends and colleagues from around the globe and are already looking forward to next year’s program!

Promoting Good Practices for Terrorism Adjudication in the Balkans

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Group shot CT 1606In June, the CEELI Institute continued its efforts on a multi-year program to engage judges handling complex cases involving issues of terrorism and national security, including the increasingly serious threats posed in Europe by the transit of foreign terrorist fighters. The program, which aims to promote understanding and use of relevant international “good practices” for judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counter-terrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, convened a group of 21 judges from the Western Balkans for a 3-day session form June 15-17. Judges from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as prosecutors from Macedonia, were present at the session which elaborated on key good practices and adjudication techniques that were deemed most important to the region during a planning meeting held in February of this year.

The project is implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, based in Malta, and is funded by the US Department of State.

Joining us for this the June session was a “deep bench” of experts including the Hon. John Tunheim, Chief Judge of the US District Court for Minnesota, and a counter-terrorism adjudication expert with years of experience working in the Balkans; Judge Rene Elkerbout, Presiding Judge, District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands (who handled one of the Netherlands groundbreaking foreign fighter cases); Rajko Kozmelj, Western Balkans Counter-Terrorism Initiative Chair at The Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU, and Mike Mullaney (remotely from Washington, DC), Counter-terrorism Section Chief, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

The interactive program benefited from the vast and differing experiences among faculty and participants alike. The international experts from Europe and the United States created a thorough depiction of counter-terrorism adjudication across different legal systems that helped participants gain a solid understanding of relevant best practices and how to incorporate them into their future work.

We look forward to further sessions of this project, both for Balkan judges, and for those from the Middle East and North Africa.

Belgrade: CEELI supports this year’s Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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Chief Justices Smaller GOX_6519_resizeThe CEELI Institute we delighted to support this year’s Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, held in Belgrade on June 20-22, and hosted by the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia.

The Conference of Chief Justices is a self-sustaining organization whose members lead the judiciaries of twenty-three nations from the Baltic Sea to the Caucasus. The Conference meets annually in one of the member countries to address the many common challenges faced by the Chief Justices in improving their countries’ judiciaries, promoting judicial independence, strengthening integrity and accountability, improving court management, fighting corruption, and building public support for the courts. The CEELI Institute has been honored to support the work and mission of the Conference since its inception in 2011.

Among the achievements of the Conference is the drafting and signing, in 2015, of a landmark Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary–known now as the Brijuni Statement, after the site of the 2015 conference hosted in Brijuni, Croatia by the Supreme Court of Croatia. The Brijuni Statement reaffirms the fundamental principles of judicial independence and integrity, and adds to the body of international instruments that recognize that true judicial independence, both institutional and individual, is indispensable to the successful functioning of the judiciary under the rule of law.

This year was notable in that the President of the Supreme Cassational Court of Serbia, Dragomir Milojević, joined as the 16th signatory to the document.

The Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe was initially launched in Prague, at the CEELI Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who attended the first Conference. The Conference now continues as a self-sustaining body that meets annually in one of the countries represented, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas and work towards solutions. The Conference continues to flourish and since its inception has rotated between member states, each year hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Chief Justices from Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), Croatia (2015), and most recently, Serbia.

The CEELI Institute continues to provide guidance and expertise to the Conference through CEELI Institute Board member, Judge John M. Walker, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Walker has also enlisted the support of Judge Clifford J. Wallace, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose extensive experience includes establishing a similar conference for the countries of Asia and the Pacific. Both judges, who are active in rule-of-law development, have an on-going role in supporting and advising the Conference on behalf of the Institute.

The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary. The Brijuni Statement will be published and hosted on the CEELI Institute website. It joins other useful legal instruments addressing judicial independence the drafting of which have been supported by the CEELI Institute, including the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices.

Promoting Judicial Accountability in Central Europe

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12524251_1000746486678658_7769393494797001733_nThe CEELI Institute recently completed its partnership with the Polish Institute for Law and Society (INPRIS) on a project to promote better interaction between civil society and the judiciary in central and southeastern Europe. The project was funded by the International Visegrad Fund and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Visegrad Group, or V-4, consists of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia).

The project, entitled “NGOs and the Judiciary – Watchdog Activities, Interactions, Collaboration, and Communication”, aimed to gather and share good practices designed to ensure more effective cooperation between NGOs and the judiciary, especially in cases where civil society and NGO projects involve civic monitoring of judiciary. The ultimate goal is to encourage the judiciary to view such monitoring in a positive and constructive light, and recognize that it is a useful tool for improving the overall performance and public credibility of the judiciary. The project was also designed to promote sharing of best practices from central Europe with the countries of the western Balkan region, with the goal of inspiring and better equipping civil society in the western Balkans to take a strategic approach in interacting with and monitoring the judiciary. Six partner organizations from V-4 and Balkan countries participated in the project.

Within the project, the CEELI Institute focused on development of the Czech experience in most effectively monitoring the judiciary, with identification of best practices used by civil society in the Czech Republic. In December 2015, all participating partners met in Warsaw, Poland to finalize the country reports and to discuss in person the final recommendations to judiciary, NGOs, and government, which is one of the outcomes of the project. The final recommendations were published by INPRIS in March 2016. The recommendations will also be useful in development of future curriculum on civic monitoring of the judiciary, and in promoting other forms of cooperation between civil society and the judiciary.

Trial Skills and Legal Transformation Trainings in Burma

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2016-05-28 at 11-06-59The CEELI Institute, together with Burma Center Prague (BCP), continues its effort to train young lawyers in Burma, under the auspices of the Myanmar Lawyers Network.  The most recent sessions were delivered in May 2016.  The most recent programs took place among a dramatically changing political landscape following the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy in November 2015, which in turn began paving the way for democracy and the return to power of iconic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

In addition to the continuing focus on building practical trial skills, the trainings focused on aspects of political and legal transformation (an issue that is at last possible to address entirely openly in the country) as well as the role of lawyers in drafting new legislation. The legislative process will be an important topic in the coming years as the country begins to grapple with its outdated and repressive laws inherited from its years of colonial and military rule.

The May 2016 trainings were carried out in the regional cities of Pyay and Pyapon, in line with our objective of providing training opportunities to lawyers outside of the main cities, and to targeting the younger, less-experienced members of the network. The trainings were led by Tomáš Vachuda, a veteran Czech lawyer and the Vice-Dean of the Anglo-American University in Prague, who was himself active during the years of substantial legislative changes in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s. The hands-on practical training on trial skills was led by Allen Snyder, Professor at the University of San Diego, a long-time trainer and board member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). The practical exercises were based on a mock case and focused on providing young lawyers with skills necessary for preparing and arguing their cases in court. The program provided basic advocacy skills for organizing and preparing a case file, collecting and presenting evidence, and effectively presenting the case to the judge in a courtroom setting.

Letter from the Executive Director

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Lehmann LetterThis April marked my second anniversary as the Executive Director of the CEELI Institute. Looking back over the past two years, I am highly gratified by the growth and expansion of the Institute. We continue to blaze new trails; with every new day, we are expanding our programs and curricula, working with new partners, and reaching new audiences. The need for the programs offered by the CEELI Institute is greater than ever, and we continue to try to rise to the new challenges that are being posed to the Rule of Law in this region and beyond.

Last year we were able to conduct over 50 individual programs, both here in Prague at the Villa Grébovka and abroad in Tunisia, Burma, and Croatia. We had a total of over 1,100 participants at these events. A week rarely goes by without some kind of event happening here in Prague, and on our busiest days we may have up to three programs running simultaneously. It is wonderful to see the Villa being fully utilized, pulsing with life and activity.

We have assembled an amazing international team here- we are now up to 14 full and part time employees, augmented by our wonderful interns, and by the catering, security, and cleaning teams that keep the Villa Grébovka running smoothly and efficiently.

We are gratified by the continued and ongoing support from our funders, including the US Department of State and the Czech Foreign Ministry. The recent renewals of many of our existing grants has been a strong vote of confidence in the quality of the programs we deliver. The scope of our funders also continues to expand: in the past year we have been privileged to be able to implement programs on behalf of new partners, including the OSCE, USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the International Bar Association.

If you haven’t recently visited Prague, or haven’t yet checked out our latest Annual Report, it might be time to return! We are changing and growing every day, and we invite you to be a part of our amazing transformation.

Christopher Lehmann
Executive Director

Please Join us for the CEELI Institute Annual Meeting June 26-27, 2016

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Please join us in Prague on June 26-27 for the CEELI Institute 2016 Annual Meeting.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0052.JPGOur theme this year will focus on one of the biggest challenges now facing the international development community: effective strategies for delivering Rule of Law developmental assistance in increasingly difficult political environments. We have an exciting line up of panelists, drawn from the international development community, and from the ranks of those currently struggling on the front lines to keep the Rule of Law alive under repressive conditions.

As always, we expect this year’s meeting to bring together an exciting mix of activists, academicians, diplomats, government officials and experts, as well as our board members, partners, and friends. The gathering allows us the opportunity to take an intensive look at our programs, as well as hold frank discussions on the critical challenges facing our region as it struggles with war, repression, corruption, and the rise of illiberal regimes which question the value of democratic transitions.

All events will be held at the Institute, at the Villa Grébovka, in Prague. Registration is free. We also have limited accommodations for up to 38 guests at the Villa, or can make recommendations for comfortable accommodation at a variety of nearby hotels.

Registration is now open at: http://ceeliinstitute.org/registration-for-the-2016-annual-meeting/

Password for the registration page: prague_2016

Respite Program for Human Rights Defenders at the Villa Grebovka

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IMG_4379The CEELI Institute continues to expand its successful program to provide respite stays for human rights defenders working under pressure and in extreme situations. Since initiating the project in summer 2015, the Institute has now hosted seven of these brave and inspiring human rights attorneys through the program. Respite stay participants, to date, have worked in areas of anti-torture litigation, access to information, NGO defense, children’s rights, and freedom of expression. Each participant creates his or her own program based on their interests and amount of time they will spend at the Institute. Examples of past projects have included learning documentary film making skills (for use in documenting and filming torture victim testimonies), providing interviews with international media on their work, and improving legal English. Respite participants also frequently participate in ongoing programs at the Institute. The participants reside at CEELI Institute facilities in Prague, near the Villa Grébovka. Participants have a safe, peaceful and comfortable space in which to work during their stay. Recognizing the important role that family plays in the well-being of human rights defenders, CEELI is also able to make accommodations for sabbatical participants to bring along partners and children. We look forward to continuing this novel and innovative program and to welcoming more of these brave people to CEELI this year!

Tunisia: Training on Corruption Investigations in the Area of Permits and Licenses

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b9ea8a5a-b203-4c6d-8364-a2050e2416beIn April 2016, the CEELI Institute delivered another of its series of anti-corruption trainings organized for Tunisian stakeholders in cooperation with the Tunisian National Anti-Corruption Agency (INLUCC). The session focused on detecting corruption and fraud in the issuance of government permits and licenses. Once again, we were able to secure outstanding international faculty for the program. Dan Newcomb is the founder of the Anti-Corruption group at the global law firm Shearman & Sterling, and has participated in numerous high-profile cases, including the investigation into the marketing practices of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, which was a precursor to the enactment of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Helge Kvamme is a partner with Selmer, a Norwegian Law Firm, and is a former head of PwC Forensics and Anti-Corruption Services in Norway, where he gained extensive experience with economic crime investigations and Anti-Corruption services.

The highly interactive training was based on a hypothetical case of corruption in issuing a license for a telecommunications company, and included sample invoices, news reports, witness testimonies, internal communications and bank transfer documents that the participants, working in groups, needed to piece together into a case to present to a hypothetical prosecution. The thirty Tunisian participants at the training included representatives of INLUCC, as well as of a broad array of relevant Tunisian institutions, including government regulators and lawyers.

Anti-Corruption Programs at the Institute: Our Intensive Practitioner Courses Continue

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13100904_1020086394744667_4969438227977704447_nIn late April, we again conducted our popular program on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption” for a fully enrolled session. Participants at this most recent session included prosecutors, investigators, and NGO representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Serbia, and Tunisia as well as a number of observers, including representatives from the OSCE and from US embassies across the Balkan region.

The five-day interactive program also brought together an extraordinary faculty line-up of some of the world’s foremost anti-corruption prosecutors and forensic accountants, who guided the participants through a case-based, interactive curricula using realistic case scenarios as learning tools. As part of the program, participants work throughout the week in small groups to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools along the way. Building on each previous session, participants are presented each day with additional facts, documents, information, and legal obstacles that they must confront and overcome as the evidence and case scenario become more and more complicated. The course is designed to develop and improve practical investigation skills as the participants pursue a resolution to their case, augmented by expert guidance and instruction. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics and faculty-provided mentoring to the small groups, as well as to individual participants throughout the program.

Spring Anti-Corruption Training at the CEELI Institute

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In late April, the CEELI Institute again conducted its program on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption.” As with the previous sessions, the five-day interactive program brought together an extraordinary faculty line-up consisting of some of the world’s foremost anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners including Jean-Michel Ferat, a US forensic accountant and Managing Director of Claro Group, David Hawkes, a German senior prosecutor and head of the Special Litigation Unit in the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency (IVP), Pamela Parizek, Partner at KPMG in Washington D.C., Bruno Cova, Chair of the Milan Office of the law firm of Paul Hastings, and Susan Ringler, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for a Fortune 100 company. Together, this esteemed faculty provided participants with a comprehensive framework for investigating and prosecuting official corruption.

Training on Investigation and Prosecution of Official Corruption, April 25-29, 2016

Training on Investigation and Prosecution of Official Corruption, April 25-29, 2016

The program’s participants included prosecutors, investigators, and NGO representatives from six countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Serbia, and Tunisia as well as a number of observers including representatives from the OSCE and from US embassies from across the Balkan region. The CEELI Institute puts great emphasis on designing and conducting programs that use case-based, interactive curricula that use realistic case scenarios as learning tools.

Participants worked throughout the week in small groups to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time-tested investigative tools along the way, and ultimately making a recommendation to the larger conference on whether theirs was a case they would pursue to prosecution or not. Building on each previous session, participants were presented with additional facts, documents, information, and legal obstacles each day that they had to confront and overcome as the evidence and scenario became more and more complicated. The course is designed to develop and improve practical investigation skills as the participants pursue a resolution to their case, augmented by expert guidance and instruction. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics and the faculty provided mentoring to the small groups, as well as to individual participants throughout the program.

Tunisia: Training on Corruption Investigations in the Area of Permits and Licenses

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TunisiaOn April 12-13, the CEELI Institute delivered another of its series of trainings organized in collaboration with the Tunisian National Anti-Corruption Agency (INLUCC). The session focused on detecting corruption and fraud in the area of issuing government permits and licenses, and was led by two prominent experts. Dan Newcomb is the founder of the Anti-Corruption group at the leading global law firm Shearman & Sterling, and has participated in numerous high-profile cases, including the investigation into the marketing practices of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation for the Special Review Committee of its board of directors, which was a precursor to the enactment of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Helge Kvamme is a partner with the Norwegian Law Firm Selmer and formerly the head of PwC Forensics and Anti-Corruption Services in Norway with extensive experience with economic crime investigations, and Anti-Corruption services.

The highly interactive training was based on a hypothetical case of corruption in issuing a licence for a telecommunications company and included sample invoices, news reports, witness testimonies, internal communications, and bank transfer documents that the participants, working in groups, needed to piece together into a case to present to a hypothetical prosecution. Invited by INLUCC, the 30 participants at the training were representatives of a broad array of Tunisian institutions, government regulators, and lawyers.

The CEELI Institute 2015 Annual Report Now Available!

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The CEELI Institute is excited to announce that our 2015 annual report is now available! The report follows the progress of our ongoing projects, including regional work in Tunisia and Burma, as well as our efforts here at the Villa Grébovka in Prague, including our highly acclaimed anti-corruption course, our CEE Judicial Network, and many more! Downloadable versions of all our annual reports can be found here.

Download (PDF, 2.91MB)

Ukraine: Defending Media Freedom

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The CEELI Institute is hosting training for Ukrainian lawyers dedicated to the legal defense of journalists and bloggers across their country. In cooperation with the Regional Press Development Institute (RPDI), a Kiev-based NGO, CEELI is bringing these lawyers together for a seminar in Prague, as a follow-up to similar programs that were held in April and October 2015. After focusing on topics such as the protection of whistle-blowers, libel laws, media self-regulation, and comparative EU media law, this next phase (March 2016) focuses both on experiences with pursuing Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) cases at the European Court of Human Rights, and with the legislative transformation affecting state media in Central Europe. The topics, selected by the RPDI, reflect the immediate challenges facing Ukraine today. As the country continues undergoing a deep and uncertain transition, the degree to which its reform efforts are successful will have a profound impact not only on Ukraine itself, but on the entire region. Facilitating the exchange of expertise and best practices between Ukrainian legal professionals and their colleagues from EU countries helps increase the chance that the reforms will succeed.

Addressing Corruption in Ukraine

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1602 OZON web photoThe CEELI Institute is currently conducting training for volunteers from the Ukrainian public monitoring group, OZON. OZON’s goal is to foster more open, accountable and transparent government.  As part of their program at CEELI, OZON monitors are discussing differences between Russian and Ukrainian standards of access to government information, the role of public monitoring with respect to access to information and the legal process of requesting information and court processes for defending rights to information. Among other activities, OZON plans to underake monitoring of court proceedings; securing open access to information on court proceedings in Ukraine and monitoring court information is a critically important part of overall efforts underway to address corruption in Ukraine.

Tunisia: CEELI Institute Begins Program to Build Public Trust in the Judiciary

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The CEELI Institute recently started the second phase of its judicial program in Tunisia, designed to work with a select group of judges, on an effort to build and promote public trust in the judiciary. In partnership with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, and in cooperation with the Swedish–based International Legal Assistance Consortium, the initial session brought together twelve highly experienced Tunisian judges who have previously worked with CEELI on other judicial projects. The program addresses problems created for judges in Tunisia by the continuing lack of public trust in state institutions, a lingering legacy left of the Ben Ali era. The topic was identified by the judges themselves, as well as by other relevant stakeholders, during our needs assessment following the initial phase of the project.  Judges often have difficulty dealing with the intense media scrutiny, which distorts the picture of what is really going on in the courtroom. The program aims to encourage the judges to develop tools to effectively communicate and interact with both the public and the media. Participating judges are provided with an opportunity to discuss relevant issues in a constructive setting among themselves as well as with representatives of other sectors, including the non-governmental sector and media.  Four such sessions will be organized in spring 2016, bringing together close to 50 Tunisian judges from various regions of the country.

CEELI Institute works with Balkan Judges Handling Terrorism Cases

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In February, in partnership with the Malta-based International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) and with funding from the US State Department, the CEELI Institute initiated a multi-year program working with judges from the western Balkan region who must handle complex cases involving issues of terrorism, national security, and the transit of foreign fighters.  In particular, the program will promote understanding and use of relevant international guidance for judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses.

In light of the increased terrorism across Europe, the vast transit of refugees to Europe from Syria, and the particular burdens this puts on the Balkan countries, the issues encompassed by the GCTF Good Practice documents are more important than ever. The continuing civil war in Syria and other conflicts in the region put special burdens on the Balkans, with increasing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters either leaving their native Balkan homes to go fight abroad and then returning, or foreign fighters entering the Balkans under the guise of being refugees. In either case, judges across the region need to be trained and prepared to handle cases involving both domestic terrorism and the new phenomenon presented by foreign fighters.

A preliminary strategy session was held at the Institute in early February, and brought together judges from five of the affected Balkan countries, along with a U.S. judge, highly experienced counterterrorism experts, CEELI Institute and IIJ staff. The Institute was delighted to welcome back Judge John R. Tunheim, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and a veteran faculty member of some of our most prominent programs and a wealth of knowledge on the Balkan region, to participate in and lead several segments of the meeting. Discussions surrounded the current experiences and capacity of the judiciaries across the Balkans in dealing with cases involving terrorism, including examination of particular cases handled to date by courts in the region. The two-day session also involved an in-depth discussion of key GCTF Good Practices, and their relevance to the work of the judges in the region, as they face increasing numbers of such cases.

The Institute is now in the process of preparing more comprehensive sessions for a larger group of judges from across the region, to explore the issues involved in handling terrorism and foreign fighter cases in greater depth. At least twenty judges from six countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – will be selected by their high courts or court presidents to participate in the first training session in early summer of this year.

Negotiation Strategies in an International Context Addressed at the CEELI Institute

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DSC00548The CEELI Institute was delighted to welcome former Jordanian Prime Minister, Dr. Abdelsalam al-Majali, who spoke at length on his long experiences in the Arab-Israeli peace processes. Dr. al-Majali offered valuable insights into the process of negotiation, the barriers negotiators face, how compromises can be reached, and how negotiators can successfully avoid impasse and stalemates. He offered important insights into how negotiations can successfully be used to resolve pressing political issues of our day.

Dr. al-Majali was joined at the Institute by David Rivkin, the President of the International Bar Association, who led a discussion on the successful Israeli-Egyptian Taba border arbitrations. Mr. Rivkin is a partner at the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimption, and a world-renowned expert in international arbitration.

Prosecuting Banks for Participating in Corruption: Seminar in Tunisia

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Photo 03-02-16 10 26 59On February 3-4, 2016, the CEELI Institute organized the latest of a series of trainings for the Tunisian National Anti-Corruption Agency (INLUCC), this time focusing on strategies and policies for effective detection, investigation, and prosecution of corruption and money laundering in the financial sector.

Over 40 professionals gathered for the training in Tunis, including representatives from both national and private banks, judges, lawyers, and journalists. Combining their various backgrounds, the participants brainstormed effective ways of how to detect and tackle the entrenched corruption that continues to be a problem in Tunisia. Mr. Chawki Tabib, President of the INLUCC, delivered the opening remarks and the media, including Tunisian TV, were present covering the event. The CEELI Institute program was led by John Pearson, General Counsel of the Crown Law Office in Ontario, Canada and former Director of Public Prosecutions in Nova Scotia, as well as by Karl Payeur, the head of Deloitte Forensic in France.

Evaluation of Judges: An Interactive Webinar Held on December 18, 2015

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bara webinarOn December 18, 2015, the CEELI Institute, as part of its Central and Eastern European Judicial Network program, organized an online workshop on the “Evaluation of Judges.” The webinar was led by Mr. Pim Albers, an independent Dutch expert with global expertise in issues related to the judiciary and court administration. Mr. Albers gave an in-depth overview of international standards related to the evaluation of judges, how to develop and use clear performance standards and neutral performance indicators, and shared his experiences from recent initiatives on the evaluation of judges in Ukraine and Moldova. All ten judges from across the CEE region who participated in the event appreciated the presentation and supplemental discussion, as methods used for evaluating judges remains a highly charged and politically controversial issue across this region. The CEELI Institute intends to continue to initiate dialogue on this particular issue, and involve more international experts and judges to participate. Similar events are planned for late February/early March 2016.

CEELI Institute Anti-Corruption Training – Spring Course 2016

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AC day 1The CEELI Institute will again offer our signature anti-corruption course in April. This five day highly interactive training provides participants with a comprehensive framework for investigating and prosecuting official corruption. The course will take place at the Institute in Prague the week of April 25-30, 2016, and is designed to walk participants through the actual investigation of a case involving official corruption. As in the past, the course filled up quickly and we now have a waiting list for the April session, as well as plans under way to run the course again in early Fall.

During the course, participants will work on a hypothetical case in small groups to develop their own investigation strategy, learning to use time tested investigative tools and to develop practical skills along the way. Over the course of five days, students will:

  • Learn to identify transnational red flags, and evaluate possible cases of official corruption
  • Analyze publicly available information to detect signs of corruption
  • Develop an investigative plan and take the first steps in pursuing their proactive investigation
  • Consider what documents to access—and how to get them
  • Discuss how to utilize law enforcement tools to access financial records
  • Consider how to acquire and use legally collected electronic evidence
  • Use invoices, payment ledgers, receipts, and travel records to support the investigation
  • Undertake Forensic Analysis of relevant financial evidence necessary to “follow the money”
  • Learn techniques for effectively conducting interviews of potential witnesses and targets
  • Develop a “theory of the case” in order to assure that the evidence collected sufficiently supports the charges to be brought by the prosecutors
  • Prepare to present the case for trial, by marshaling necessary evidence and by considering possible defenses and challenges that will be faced at trial
  • Consider alternative mechanisms for resolving corruption cases
  • Consider non-investigative measures to prevent and expose official corruption

The Institute continues to bring together the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants and practitioners as faculty to design and teach this course. This year’s faculty line up includes:

Faculty

Jeanjean-michel-ferat-Michel Ferat, Managing Director at the Claro Group, Washington, D.C. Mr. Ferat is an expert in forensic accounting, the conduct of forensic investigations and in the analysis of complex data sets. He is a former investigator for the UN Oil-for-Food Programme.

Moyer_Original (director-THINK's conflicted copy 2015-08-31)Homer E. Moyer is recognized as a leader of America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) bar. He has served as counsel in dozens of investigations, chaired more than 35 international anti-corruption conferences, and serves as editor of Anti-Corruption Regulation. He is a partner at Miller & Chevalier, Washington, D.C.

susan ringlerSusan Ringler is Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for Alcoa, in New York. Former federal prosecutor with the US Department of Justice, who also served as General Counsel for UN Oil-for-Food Investigation, and as a corruption investigator at the World Bank. Ms. Ringler also previsously served as the Deputy Director of CEELI Criminal Law Program managing programs across the the former Soviet Republics.

david hawkesDavid Hawkes is former German senior prosecutor specialized in complex international anti-corruption and white collar crime investigation and litigation. He presently heads the Special Litigation Unit in the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) in Washington, D.C.

Pamela Parizek is an Advisory Partner at KPMG LLP and leads the Washington, DC Forensic practice. She has over 25 years of experience – as a lawyer, regulator and forensic accountant – investigating securities fraud, accounting irregularities and bribery allegations, and advising US and global clients on regulatory compliance.

You can find complete faculty roster and more information about training in below attached brochure.

REGISTRATION IS ALREADY CLOSED FOR OUR SPRING SESSION – ENROLLMENT FOR AUTUMN DATES NOW OPEN

To reserve a place or for more information, please email info@ceeli-inst.org or call +420 222 520 057
2,300 USD – Full course and materials with lodging. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments included.
1,800 USD – Full course and materials without lodging. Lunch and refreshments included.

 

Download (PDF, 1.78MB)

A Landmark Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary: Completed with CEELI Institute Assistance

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BrijuniWith CEELI Insitute support and encouragement, the Supreme Courts of Central and Eastern Europe have joined together to sign a landmark Statement of Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary. The Principles were approved at the Annual Conference of the Chief Justices, hosted by the Supreme Court of Croatia, in Brijuni, Croatia, in October 2015. Justices from the Supreme Courts of 16 participating countries from the region signed the Statement. It represents the culmination of three years of work by the Justices.

The Statement is to some extent modeled on the 1997 Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, drafted and signed by the Conference of Chief Justices of the Asia Pacific Region. The “Brijuni Statement of Principles“ will now stand alongside the Bangalore Principles and other key international instruments which provide a foundation in international law for the concept of an independent judiciary as fundamental to the Rule of Law. As the Brijuni Principles themselves state: “[T]he implementation and protection of all rights depends on the existence of a competent, independent, and impartial judiciary.“ As was stated by the Hon. Branko Hrvatin, President of the Supreme Court of Croatia, “The Brijuni Statement represents the unwavering commitment by the Judiciaries of Central and Eastern Europe to the rule of law, and to a shared belief in judicial independence.“

Significantly, the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe was originally launched with INL support, at the CEELI Insitute in Prague, back in 2011, with participation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Since then, it has become a self-sustaining annual effort, largely organized and financed by the participating Courts themselves. The CEELI Insitute, along with our board member, Judge John M. Walker, Jr., of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, continue to be actively involved in supporting the efforts and organization of the Conference. Judge Walker was instrumental in bringing the Brijuni Statement to completion.

A copy of the Brijuni Statement is available on the CEELI Institute website at www.ceeliinstitute.org, and we will be printing hard copy versions for distribution to the participating courts. The original, signed copies of the Brijuni Statement will continue to be preserved and maintained by the Supreme Court of Croatia.

November sees Multiple Intensive Anti-Corruption Training Programs at the Institute

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Anti-Corruption 2Due to high demand, the CEELI Institute conducted a second session of our highly acclaimed training program on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption” at the Villa Grebovka, in early November. This session again brought together a highly experienced faculty line-up consisting of some of the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners.

The Institute also conducted a second, similar program later in November, at the special request of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Institute’s Anti-Corruption curriculum has had outstanding student feedback, and is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive framework for investigating and prosecuting official corruption. The Institute’s efforts to provide high quality anti-corruption training continue to draw demand, especially as official corruption has emerged as one of the most prevalent and pernicious threats to the rule of law around the world. November’s programs brought together prosecutors and investigators from Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Ukraine, and Singapore, as well as a number of observers, including members of the Czech anti-corruption police, the OSCE, and the US Department of Justice.

The CEELI Institute puts great emphasis on designing and conducting programs that use case-based, interactive curricula. CEELI Institute programs engage participants in the actual process of assembling and pursuing a procurement fraud case. Using practical case scenarios as a learning tool demands that participants take an active role in the workshop. With each session, participants are presented with additional facts and legal obstacles to confront and overcome as the fact pattern becomes more complicated. Participants start with a few red flags, indicating a possible case involving corrupt activities. They work in small groups to pursue their investigation. The case studies are designed to walk participants through all aspects of an investigation – initial allegations or suspicions, preliminary inquiries, development of an investigation plan, collection and analysis of documentary materials, forensic accounting analysis, interviews of witnesses and targets, and preparation for trial or other disposition. The use of a case scenario as a teaching tool allows the participants to form close bonds as the training progresses, challenging their intellect and expanding their skills and knowledge base as they are exposed to new approaches in the investigation and prosecution of complex high level corruption cases. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics. Our highly experienced faculty provide mentoring to the small groups, as well as one-on-one mentoring throughout the program.

Strengthening Government Accountability in Ukraine

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UkraineIn September, the CEELI Institute worked together with a Ukrainian civil society organization (The Kyiv based Center for Civil Liberties) to train a network of Ukrainian citizens engaged in monitoring the conduct of law enforcement agencies, courts, and local government throughout the country. The project, named “OZONE” to signify its aim of promoting transparency, brought together regional leaders from across Ukraine to study best practices for projects promoting government accountability. The program focused particularly on communication strategies, including the development of useful and tangible reports as part of an accountability campaign, and effective communication of their efforts with the public and media. Participants examined other successful public monitoring campaigns, including a similar high profile court monitoring project in Georgia that has been run successfully for the past 7 years.

Our partner, the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), is itself a grass root organization which came to the forefront of Ukrainian civil society for their work during the Maidan uprisings of 2013-14. The CCL runs a number of human rights projects, including the pursuit of justice for those killed and injured in Maidan.
The OZONE network started originally as a public control tool to monitor police conduct during peaceful assemblies and to monitor court sessions related to the Maidan demonstrations; it has since expanded nationwide.

We believe that there is outstanding capacity and expertise among Ukrainian civil society, and that constructive citizen involvement is needed, especially in this phase of the difficult political and economic transition that Ukraine is undertaking.

Human Rights Lawyers’ Sabbatical Program

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RespiteWith a generous donation from the director of the Oak Foundation’s international human rights program, the CEELI Institute has completed the renovation and furnishing of a one-bedroom flat at the Institute, which is dedicated for use by participants of a new respite and sabbatical program for human rights lawyers working under stressful and challenging conditions. Our program is designed to help mitigate the damaging effect of the severe stress and untenable workloads carried by many among the community of human rights lawyers. Often working in hostile and authoritarian environments, these lawyers work tirelessly to defend their clients – often at great personal risk and risk to their families.

Depending on the length of their stay, participants are encouraged to write and publish white papers on the legal issues they address that might serve as policy briefing tools for international counterparts and contribute to the body of knowledge for law practitioners in areas of human rights defense.

CEELI invites referrals from peers and colleagues to nominate lawyers working on difficult cases of human rights abuse, and those defending NGOs and civil society activists for short-to-medium term stays of up to three months. The specifics of each sabbatical are tailored to the individual needs of the participating lawyers. This year, CEELI has welcomed three participants on this respite program, and we look forward to hosting several more in the coming year.

If you would like to support this program, or would like more information, please contact Jennifer Gaspar at jgaspar@ceeli-inst.org

Promoting Legal Skills Training for Independent Burmese Lawyers

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The CEEBurma 044LI Institute, in partnership with Czech NGO Burma Center Prague, is again preparing to deliver another series of legal skills training sessions for independent Burmese lawyers, to be held this month in two regional Burmese cities. The trainings are delivered as part of a long-term cooperation agreement with the Myanmar Lawyers Network (MLN), an organization of independent Burmese lawyers active in pro bono defense of politically prosecuted citizens and vulnerable populations. U.S. Judge Christopher Whitten and Polish law professor Marta Skrodzka will lead the training, which is focused on building practical advocacy skills.  The program will also address the role and experience of lawyers in a society transitioning from a totalitarian regime to democracy.

The training sessions predominantly target the younger members of the network, especially in the regions outside of the two main cities of Yangon and Mandalay. Their main focus is on advocacy skills in a very practical hands-on setting. The program, funded by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also focuses on experience from the transformation of the legal environment in Central Europe. In addition, the CEELI Institute also uses this project as a mechanism to provide traini-the-trainer support to selected network lawyers who will assume more responsibility in delivering training projects for their organization. Not least, the CEELI Institute and Burma Center Prague also continues its long-term institutional support and cooperation with the MLN leadership, a group of veteran Burmese lawyers who have fought for human rights in their country for the last four decades.

With the recent landslide election victory for Aung San Sui Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, the Burmese transition to genuine democracy continues; the process is far from done, but there is new hope that the investment of time and energy in the support and development of a cadre of principled lawyers providing willing to provide pro bono defense will be more important than ever.

Supporting International Human Rights Standards, Here at Home in Central Europe

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Czech Human RightsThe CEELI Institute was delighted to host and cosponsor a conference on International Human Rights Obligations of Post-Communist Countries, in partnership with the Law Faculty of Masaryk University in Brno and the Czech Institute for European and Comparative Law, held at the Institute in October. The conference was attended by almost 100 professional participants from across the Czech Republic, and focused particularly on recent research by Masaryk University scholars on the process of signing and ratification of international human rights conventions by Central and Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Aspects of the Czech transition to democracy have recently been under siege by some sectors of the Czech political spectrum. This conference highlighted the Czech Republic’s role in ascribing to human rights principles, and focused on the conditions under which the treaties are created and ratified, with an aim to bring academics and practitioners together with aim of promoting professional exchange across the legal community. Conference participants thus included members of academia, as well as representatives of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic, other high courts, as well as professionals from various government bodies.

This program reflects the broad engagement by the CEELI Institute with Czech legal institutions.

The CEELI Institute Hosts the Second “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption” Training Session of 2015

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The CIMG_4030EELI Institute is again conducting our highly acclaimed training program on “Investigating and Prosecuting Official Corruption” at the Villa Grebovka, in Prague. Due to high demand for the program, the Institute is running multiple training sessions this year. November’s program brings together a highly experienced faculty line-up consisting of some of the world’s most experienced anti-corruption prosecutors, forensic accountants, and practitioners.

This course, which has had outstanding student feedback, is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive framework for investigating and prosecuting official corruption. It is the Institute’s only tuition-based course and one that continues to expand, especially as official corruption has emerged as one of the most prevalent and pernicious threats to the rule of law around the world. November’s program brings together prosecutors and investigators from Armenia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Singapore as well as a number of observers, including members of the Czech anti-corruption police.

The CEELI Institute puts great emphasis on designing and conducting programs that use case-based, interactive curricula. This program engages participants in the actual process of assembling and pursuing a procurement fraud case. Using the practical case scenario as a learning tool demands that participants take an active role in the workshop. With each session, participants are presented with additional facts and legal obstacles to confront and overcome as the fact pattern becomes more complicated. Participants start with a few red flags, indicating a possible case involving corrupt activities. They work in small groups to pursue their investigation. The case studies are designed to walk participants through all aspects of an investigation – initial allegations or suspicions, preliminary inquiries, development of an investigation plan, collection and analysis of documentary materials, forensic accounting analysis, interviews of witnesses and targets, and preparation for trial or other disposition. The use of a case scenario as a teaching tool allows the participants to form close bonds as the training progresses, challenging their intellect and expanding their skills and knowledge base as they are exposed to new approaches in the investigation and prosecution of complex high level corruption cases. The case scenario is supported by relevant faculty presentations on key topics. Faculty provide mentoring to the small groups, as well as one-on-one mentoring throughout the program.

The Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe Undertakes a Landmark Step in Approving The Statement of Principle of the Independence of the Judiciary

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Brijuni ConferenceThe Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe is a self-sustaining organization whose members are the Supreme Court Chief Justices who lead the judiciaries of twenty-three nations from the Baltic Sea to the Caucasus, including the Balkan Peninsula. The Conference meets annually in one of the member countries to address the many common challenges faced by the Chief Justices in improving their countries’ judiciaries, promoting judicial independence, strengthening integrity and accountability, improving court management, fighting corruption, and building public support for the courts. The CEELI Institute has been honored to support the work and mission of the Conference since its inception in 2011.

This year’s Conference was hosted by the Supreme Court of Croatia, from 11-14 October at the seaside Croatian town of Brijuni. Notably, this year’s session saw the culmination of work over the past three years, with the signing by the assembled judges of the Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary, known now as the Brijuni Statement. As noted by this year’s Conference host, the Honorable Branko Hrvatin, President of the Supreme Court of Croatia, the Brijuni Statement represents a “clear commitment by the Judges of Central and Eastern Europe to the Rule of Law.” The Brijuni Statement reaffirms the fundamental principles of judicial independence and integrity, and adds to the body of international instruments that recognize that true judicial independence, both institutional and individual, is indispensable to the successful functioning of the judiciary under the rule of law.

The Brijuni Statement is modeled after a similar effort undertaken by the Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, which resulted in the adoption of the Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in 1995. The Brijuni Statement is a reaffirmation of a long-held and shared belief amongst its signatories in judicial independence and the obligation to uphold the rule of law.

The CEELI Institute’s efforts have supported the work of the Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe since its inception in 2011. Indeed, the formal organization of the Conference was preceded by two Judicial Integrity Roundtables held at the Institute in 2007 and 2010. The Conference itself was launched in Prague, at the Institute, with support from the U.S. Department of State, and with the commitment of United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who attended the first Conference, and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The Conference is now a self-sustaining body that meets annually in one of the countries represented, and provides the opportunity for the Chief Justices to discuss common challenges, share ideas and work towards solutions. The Conference continues to flourish and since its inception has rotated between member states, each year hosted by a Chief Justice from a different country. Conferences over the past several years have been hosted by Chief Justices from Albania (2012), Montenegro (2013), the Republic of Georgia (2014), and, most recently, Croatia (2015).

The CEELI Institute continues to provide guidance and expertise to the Conference through CEELI Institute Board member, Judge John M. Walker, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Walker also enlisted the support of Judge Clifford J. Wallace, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose extensive experience includes establishing a similar conference for the countries of Asia and the Pacific. Both judges, who are active in rule-of-law development, have an on-going role in supporting and advising the Conference on behalf of the Institute.

The CEELI Institute is gratified to be able to support the publication and distribution of the Brijuni Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary. The Brijuni Statement will be published and hosted on the CEELI Institute website. It joins other useful legal instruments addressing judicial independence the drafting of which have been supported by the CEELI Institute, including the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice: A thematic Compilation of International Standards, Policies and Best Practices.

The CEELI Institute hosts Lebanese Judges Engaged in Asset Recovery Efforts

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IMG_3832The CEELI Institute was delighted to host a program on Non-Conviction Based Confiscation and Asset Management, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division (Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section).The program was attended by 20 very senior Lebanese Officials, including representatives of Lebanon’s judiciary and civil society, and by officials from the Lebanese Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Special Investigation Committee.  Speakers included the Vice-Chair of the Egmont Group (the international coordinating body for FIU’s), a member of the Lebanese Parliament, experts from the International Centre for Asset Recovery (at the Basel Institute, Switzerland) and federal prosecutors and investigators from the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Strengthening Judicial Integrity: International Judicial Conference in Zadar

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On September 18-19 2015 the International Judicial Conference co-organized by the CEELI Institute and Association of Croatian Judges (ACJ), Zadar Brunch took place in Zadar, Croatia. The conference addressed the topics of evaluation of judges, judicial ethics and effectiveness of the European Convention on Human Rights. Participants included 50 judges from Croatia and throughout the Western, Central and Eastern Europe.

Judge Branko Hrvatin, President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia opened the conference along with Justice Duro Sessa from the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia and the president of the ACJ, Judge Jadranka Nižic-Peroš, President of Association of Croatian Judges, Zadar Branch and Barbora Jungová, the CEELI Institute representative. The first session addresses the topic of Evaluation Judges. The session was moderated by Justice Duro Sessa, Judge Marianne de Rooij and Judge Karina de Koning both from the Netherlands and Judge Levente Simon from Hungary. The moderators shared their experiences about the methods of assessment of the judges ‘work. They debated the questions on how to develop effective criteria and indicators to evaluate judges ‘work and how to find the right balance between qualitative and quantitative criteria in order to not interfere to judge’s independence.

During the next session on Judicial Ethic the moderators Judge Davor Dubravica from Croatia and Judge Lukasz Piebiak from Poland as basis for discussion presented findings from GRECO IV evaluation round of 29 countries regarding judicial ethics. The focus was given to system of ethical rules and conflict of interest including declaration of assets and its effective monitoring, examples of different approaches to accessory activities of judges, post-employment restrictions, supervision and disciplinary proceedings system and others. The presentations lead to fruitful discussion on implementation of Code of Judicial Ethics in the practice and legitimacy of imposing disciplinary measures in case of its violence. The participants agreed that appropriate training of the judicial members in ethical code is necessary.

The second day of Judicial Conference started with the presentation of the Manual on Independence, Impartiality and Integrity of Justice presented by Judge Cristi Danilet from Romania. The Manual which has been develop by judges participating in CEELI Judicial Network compiles thematically more than 130 international standards related to judiciary. It provides easy to use reference tool to facilitate day to day work of judges worldwide. You can find the Manual free of charge on the CEELI website.

Effectiveness of the European Human Rights Convention” was the last topic discussed during the Judicial Conference in Zadar. Judicial aspects of the Convention were presented by Mr. Kresimir Kamber from European Court of Human rights and Judge Marijan Bitanga from Croatia. The discussion looked at the ECHR system from the perspective of a national judge, and examined issues such as whether national judges are sufficiently informed on the ECHR case-law developments; the complexity of questions related to the direct adjudication of human rights issues in national judicial practice; and the extent to which there is harmony of the “European constitutional order” in domestic contexts.

The extensive cost sharing for this conference has been organized with costs being split between the CEELI Institute (under INL grant support), Association of Croatian Judges, Zadar Branch, the Association of Croatian Judges – Central Office, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the University of Zadar and the Zadar Provincial Government.

Using Legal Mechanisms to Address Regional Conflicts

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2015-09-03 06.16.42 copyThe CEELI Institute joined with the International Bar Association (IBA) on September 1-3, 2015, to sponsor an innovative program promoting dialogue on the international legal mechanisms relevant to the resolution of ongoing regional conflicts. The program brought together IBA leadership, international experts and young lawyers in order to explore a variety of issues relevant to conflict resolution. The program included discussion groups, expert presentations, and a variety of practical exercises. This was the first in a series of such events sponsored by the IBA, in partnership with the Institute. Among those participating in the training were IBA Chair David Rivkin, IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis, and CEELI Institute Chair Homer E. Moyer, Jr. The program kicks off a busy fall schedule in Prague for the Institute.

ABA/CEELI: The 25th Anniversary Reunion!

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In June, the CEELI Institute and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) joined together for a very special meeting in Prague, to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of original American Bar25th Anniversary Reunion Association/Central and East European Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI) project.  ABA/CEELI, founded in 1990, was the forerunner for both of current organizations.  The meeting also marked the 15th anniversary of the creation of the CEELI Institute.  The occasion brought together many CEELI and ROLI alumni, and others who have been prominent supporters of our efforts. The festivities were kicked off with a special video greeting from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, offering reminiscences on the work of ABA/CEELI, and congratulations on the current commemoration.  This was followed by a remarkable founders panel, bringing together, once more, Homer E. Moyer, Jr., Sandy D’Alemberte and Mark Ellis—who constituted the original team behind CEELI. Over 70 people attended the entire three day event, filled with substantive panels on issues such as the regional rise of illiberalism, the challenges of judging in the 21st century, and the insidious ways in which corruption undermines the rule of law. The 25th anniversary event offered a special opportunity for reflection and stock taking on the progress in implementing the rule of law, both in this region and around the globe, as well as an opportunity to look at the many lessons learned from the CEELI experience

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).

Evening commemorating the Soviet mass deportations from the Baltic states

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Večer u příležitosti 74. výročí sovětských masových deportací obyvatel Baltských zemí ze 14. června 1941, který ve spolupráci s CEELI institutem pořádají velvyslanectví Estonské, Litevské a Lotyšské republiky.

Od 18.00 bude otevřena výstava „Dopisy ze Sibiře napsané na březové kůře“. Dopisy na březové kůře byly v roce 2009 zařazeny do lotyšského národního registru v rámci programu UNESCO „Paměť světa“.

Od 19.00 bude promítán dokumentární film Děti ledu (rež. Justinas Lingys, Litva, 2011, 28 min´). Dokument připomene životy a osudy dětí z Baltských zemí, které byly deportovány nebo se v důsledku sovětských represí v deportaci narodily. Jedná se o mezinárodní projekt, který realizoval litevsko-švédsko-lotyšský tým.
Největší důraz tvůrci filmu kladli na problematiku vlivu deportací na pohled na svět, formování systému humanistických hodnot a národní identitu dětí.

Po promítání bude následovat debata s rusistou, publicistou a předsedou občanského sdružení Gulag.cz Štěpánem Černouškem, s očitou svědkyní deportací z roku 1941 paní Ehou Tamm, která byla ve věku peti let spolu s matkou deportována do Tomské oblasti.

Film bude promítán v anglickém znění s českými titulky. Následná diskuse bude probíhat v anglickém jazyce.

Vstup volný. Potvrďte prosím svou účast na embassy.czech@mfa.gov.lv.

Nejen tuto naši akci, ale i mnoho dalších evropských kulturních akcí najdete v aplikaci #EUNIC app! Download iOS http://goo.gl/F9VTGo / Android:http://goo.gl/g5DP3T.

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The evening is held on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Soviet mass deportations from the Baltic States that began June 14, 1941, and is organized by Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian embassies in cooperation with the CEELI Institute.

Starting 18.00, in the foyer of Villa Grébovka, the exhibition “Birch Bark Letters from Siberia” will be opened to the public. In 2009, the “Birch Bark Letters from Siberia” were added to the UNESCO “Memory of the World” national register of Latvia.

At 19.00, there will be a screening of the documentary film “Children of the Ice” (dir. Justinas Lingys, LT, 2011, 28 min.). The film will recall the life and destiny of the children from the Baltic States that were deported or born in the place of deportation as a consequence of the Soviet deportations. “Children of the Ice” is an international project realized by a Lithuanian, Swedish and Latvian team. The primary focus of the film’s creators was to show the influence deportations had on the formation of the affected children’s system of humanist values, national identity and their worldview.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with an expert on the topic of Russia, journalist and chairman of the citizens’ association Gulag.cz, Štěpán Černoušek. Mrs. Eha Tamm, a direct witness of the deportation from 1941, who at the age of 5 was deported to the Tomsk region together with her mother, will also be joining the discussion.

Movie will be screened in English with Czech subtitles. Following discussion will be held in English.

The entrance is free. Please confirm your participation at embassy.czech@mfa.gov.lv.

You can find this event and many other cultural events of the European cultural institutes through the application #EUNIC app! Download iOShttp://goo.gl/F9VTGo / Android: http://goo.gl/g5DP3T.

Workshop on judicial standards compilation

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On March 7-8, nine judges from Central and East European Judicial Exchange Network met at the CEELI Institute in Prague to continue their work on a reference manual that will compile relevant international standards on judiciary integrity.  The Judges’ efforts to catalog international standards and provide them in practical format, both on-line and in print, will provide an effective and easy-to-use tool to facilitate the day-to-day work of judges and judicial staff worldwide. During the meeting the participating judges discussed the final phase of Manual production and the strategy of its further promotion. The completed manual will be presented during the June roundtable of the Judicial Exchange Network which will take place from 5-7 June 2015 in Prague. This initiative is a continuation of our ongoing effort, supported by the US Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), to promote the best practices for judicial transparency and accountability, and to build professional solidarity around issues of judicial integrity.1503 judicial meeting- 013

Trial Skills Training for Young Human Rights Defenders

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In early May, as part of an ongoing project to work with young lawyers in the Southern Caucuses, the CEELI Institute was pleased to host our first trial skills program for aspiring human rights defenders. Our faculty included John Vaudreuil (the former US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin) and Maxim Timofeev, Professor of Law at European Humanities University, Vilnius, who joined with regional colleagues to work through an intensive 5-day trial skills and moot court workshop tailored for the aspiring defense advocates. Participants at the program were eager to learn from their veteran instructors and supplement their theoretical legal educations with a course much more focused on practical elements necessary to be successful in the courtroom. Course instructors coupled encouragement and constructive feedback in a clearly successful attempt to build confidence in the young aspiring advocates in critical trial skills including public speaking, argumentation, cross-examination, and body language. Feedback has been extremely positive and the Institute looks forward to future opportunities to incorporate such courses into our core work with judges and lawyers.