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 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.