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As previously reported in this context several times, the team of the Southeast Europe project area at the IRZ has for many years worked closely with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. As part of this cooperation, the IRZ and the ECHR issue joint publications, for example on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and on the case law of the ECHR in the national languages of Southeast European countries. The IRZ also offers basic and further training events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, with the involvement of judges from the ECHR.
In the March edition of its "Information Note on the Court's case-law/ Note d'information sur la jurisprudence de la Cour", the Court cites the work carried out in cooperation with the IRZ as a good example of joint activities. The extensive report draws particular attention to the publications already produced as a result of this cooperation with funding from the Federal Foreign Office, which are also available to download from the Court's website as PDF documents. The latest example is the Serbian edition of the handbook on European anti-discrimination laws.
The article also underlines the significance of human rights in other work carried out by the IRZ and introduces the two magazines co-published by the IRZ in Southeast Europe, "Nova Pravna Revija" ("New Legal Review, NPR for short) and "Evropsko Pravo" (European Law, EP for short), as well as the specially dedicated website for questions on anti-discrimination. Both of these magazines are funded by the Federal Foreign Office using the German contribution to the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The website was set up within the framework of a regional project on anti-discrimination law, which was supported by the Federal Foreign Office with funds for the promotion of human rights.
Again considerable attention of the media at an event of the IRZ
In the Western Balkans the IRZ intensively cooperates with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Within the scope of this cooperation publications about the ECHR and the case law of the ECtHR are translated into respective national languages and are presented to the public in cooperation with particular national project partners of the IRZ. In addition, the ECtHR makes those available on its homepage.
The recent relevant activity was related to the Macedonian version of the "Guide on Art. 5 ECHR" and "Research report about positive obligations under Art. 10 ECHR", drawn up by the IRZ and addressing issues, which are significant for the Macedonian legal reality. Those were presented on 24th October 2014 under considerable attention of the media. It was implemented by the IRZ in cooperation with the Ombudsman, the Chamber of Lawyers and the Academy for judges and public prosecutors. The speech of the Macedonian judge at the European Court of Human Rights Dr. Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska on the actual topic "The case law of the European Court of Human Rights relating to freedom of expression and internet" received particular attention. It was followed by an enthusiastic discussion. The German ambassador Dr. Christine D. Althauser held a welcoming speech. Additionally, the Deputy Ombudsman Vaska Bajramovska - Mustafa, the Deputy President of the Chamber of Lawyers Boro Tasevski and the project member of the European Council Donche Boskovski spoke at the event. The presented publication complements the previous ones, published by the IRZ in Macedonian language. These are amongst others the translation of the German Code of Criminal Procedure, which comprises a preface adapted to the Macedonian legal situation and emphasizes the advantages of the Continental European rules of procedure. The magazine „Evropsko Pravo" (European Law), which is published biannually, rounds out these book publications.
Both the states of Southeast Europe and Germany want to increase trust in the judiciary by strengthening judicial ethics and by preventing and combating corruption. However, they differ not only in the points of departure but also in the way they approach this issue. But these very differences give rise to a particularly fruitful dialogue.
This is one of the results of the regional conference "Judicial Ethics and Fight against Corruption in the Judiciary: Comparative Experiences and common Challenges", which the IRZ organised in cooperation with the German Association of Judges and the Macedonian Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors in Skopje, Macedonia, on 14 and 15 November 2013.
The German Ambassador Gudrun Steinacker gave a welcome address at this event which was attended by judges as well as by representatives of the further training institutions for judges and public prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The speakers were the Judge at the Macedonian Supreme Court (ret.) Ljubinka Muratovska-Markovska, the Director of the Academy and Head of the Macedonian GRECO Delegation Aneta Arnaudovksa, her German counterpart Marcus Busch of the Federal Ministry of Justice, as well as the Vice-President of the German Association of Judges, the Judge at the Higher Regional Court Andrea Titz. The event focused, among other topics, on the evaluation of the judiciary by GRECO (Groupe d'Etats contre la Corruption), which will soon be carried out in Macedonia and Germany.
The presentations and contributions to the discussions showed that judicial ethics is understood as a compulsory system of rules in the transformation states which is reinforced by sanctions. In Germany, an extensive codification of ethical rules of conduct is viewed with scepticism. The judges and public prosecutors of the transformation states are committed to disclose their financial situation, and they are forbidden to engage in any political activities. This was substantiated by one of the discussants with the "mental condition" prevailing in the societies. This condition, he went on, was characterised by great national, religious and political sensitivities in the states of former Yugoslavia. Against this background, he concluded, an explicit political activity of judges might be detrimental to the reputation of the judiciary which still has to fight for its credibility anyway.
Cases of corruption in the judiciary were not denied by some discussants. However, it should not be concluded from this that the whole judiciary was steeped in corruption. After all, it was stated, it was the individual personality of a judge that mattered.
Furthermore, a publication was presented which deals with the theses on judicial ethics and exemplary cases drawn up by the respective working group of the Association of Judges in Macedonian and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian translations. This publication gives the judges from the region the opportunity to deal with these materials and the related German discussion independently.