CEELI: Supporting US-India Judicial Engagement

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In September, the CEELI Institute continued its multi-year partnership with the National Judicial Academy of India (NJA) by organizing an international exchange for Indian high court judges tasked with creating a brand new counterterrorism curriculum for use in training Indian judges. This exchange was the second such meeting of Indian and American judges facilitated by the CEELI Institute, the first being held in Bhopal, India, at the home of the NJA, last year. The Institute was also delighted to continue its partnership with the US Federal Judicial Center (FJA), in organizing this program.

The U.S. exchange was a two-part engagement for the Indian delegation that incorporated firsthand exposure to the U.S. judiciary at both the state and federal levels, as well as more conventional classroom learning focused on curriculum development and adult education techniques for legal professionals. Eight Indian high court judges and two representatives from the NJA started their exchange in Washington, DC where they met with their counterparts from the FJC before traveling to Orange Country, California, for additional site visits and courtroom observation. Particular focus was given to use of good practices for counterterrorism adjudication. The Institute looks forward to continuing to work closely with the NJA as the curriculum is refined. A pilot program is scheduled for launch early in 2019, in Bhopal.

In addition to facilitating a relationship between the NJA and the FJC, the project makes 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 and curriculum 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 that both the U.S. and Indian governments have signed on to. 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.

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 three years, the CEELI Institute has successfully organized six such counterterrorism conferences. This work has resulted in the Institute amassing a diverse and talented pool of counterterrorism experts who frequently act as program faculty.

Advocacy Skills Training at CEELI

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In May, the CEELI Institute launched a new advocacy skills training effort for young lawyers from the Eurasia region. The one-week program is designed to build the confidence of young legal professionals in areas that are most relevant to human rights advocacy in a trial setting – i.e. oral presentation and argument, motion practice, and persuasive speaking. Faculty included a roster of highly experienced international trainers. The course is highly interactive and incorporates daily participant exercises, reflecting tried and true interactive components developed for use in clinical legal education programs, including the international programs run by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). Participants were very enthusiastic, noting that the practical aspects of the workshop were something they had never experienced in their prior legal education opportunities.

The program involved daily oral presentations, including witness testimony exercises, and culminated in a mock trial. Participants received detailed feedback from faculty mentors throughout the program, enhanced by the small size of the class and the high student-faculty ratio. The CEELI Institute looks forward to conducting further sessions of this training.

The 2018 Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe

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The CEELI Institute was honored to again support the Annual Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe, hosted in Vilnius by the Supreme Court of Lithuania from May 27-29, 2018. 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), Serbia (2016), and Hungary (2017). 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 inthe 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.

New Partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

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The CEELI Institute is delighted to join in a partnership with the International Foundation Electoral Systems (IFES) on a new project to strengthen the implementation of anti-corruption standards in Europe, with particular focus on Bulgaria, Romania, and Montenegro. The project will focus first on the identification of priority substantive anti-corruption reforms, and then on steps to assist local stakeholders in implementation of those reforms; for example, the project will assist in addressing as of yet unmet recommendations arising out of the evaluation processes undertaken by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). This project is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International, Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

This latest project continues long-standing collaborative work between CEELI and IFES, which has included organization of a number of joint roundtables at the Institute in Prague, as well as the hosting of IFES regional events. We are excited about this important opportunity for continued engagement.

CEELI has helped to assemble an impressive consortium for this project, to include the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, the Expert Forum in Romania, and the Centre for Monitoring and Research in Montenegro (CeMI). This consortium will partner with domestic stakeholders and influencers in the three countries to identify, prioritize, and create action plans to tackle relevant anti-corruption reform recommendations. In this newly-launched project, the team will be working with local civil society partners in each target country, as well as judicial, electoral, and political actors, to prioritize anti-corruption reforms; map stakeholders that may support or block reforms; identify specific steps to ensure these reforms are implemented; and spearhead actual implementation (coordinating with other organizations and projects focused on corruption efforts in the target countries).

CEELI Launches Three Part Training Series on Preparation of Cases for Appeal Before the European Court of Human Rights

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In October, the CEELI Institute, working in cooperation with the Centre de la Protection Internationale (Strasbourg), launched the first session of what will ultimately be a three part course for young lawyers seeking to deepen their competency to work on cases involving violations of the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, and seeking to perfect appeals of those violations to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in Strasbourg. The ECtHR is currently among the most important avenues of international appeal and review open to citizens seeking redress from final judgments in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Such redress is particularly important for citizens of European countries which are not members of the European Union, such as Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia.

This course curricula will be delivered in three separate, interactive sessions, each lasting five days. The sessions will be spaced over the next seven months, and require commitment from participants to attend each session. The final session will include a moot court hearing in Grand Chamber in the ECtHR, in Strasbourg. The Faculty consists of attorneys working in the ECtHR’s administration, as well as former ECtHR judges or lawyers, who have been working in the ECtHR for decades, and who are well qualified to explain the peculiarities of the Convention based on their own cases.

This course also offers an exceptional opportunity for further mentorship for the participants by our committed faculty members. Thus, between the sessions, the participants can reach out to faculty for advice on cases or execution of ECtHR decisions in their country. The course also addresses strategic steps to undertake in the execution of the ECtHR’s decisions—a critical final step if the decisions are to have lasting impact.