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/

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.