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On 20 and 21 June 2019, two events were staged in Skopje addressing the role of presidents of courts and heads of public prosecutor's offices. The events were organised jointly by the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, "Pavel Shatev", and the IRZ.
The kick-off event was entitled "The role of presidents of courts in the administration of courts - management and organisation of the work performed by judges and staff". Presidents of courts, their vice presidents and members of the Council of Judges were invited to attend the event.
Otto Graf, Permanent Representative of the German Ambassador to Northern Macedonia, welcomed the participants in an opening address to the conference, in which he underscored the role played by rule of law in preparations for EU membership.
Judge Shefajet Hajdari, President of the Gostivar Court of Appeal, then provided an overview of the legal foundations as well as actual practice in the management of courts in Northern Macedonia, while involving the participants in the discussion right from the outset. This allowed a comprehensive picture to be sketched of the problems facing the judiciary in Northern Macedonia, such as the lack of staffing or excessive workloads on judges. It became clear that the assignment and posting of personnel required is also influenced by statutory provisions, e.g. relating to the amount of detail to be contained in records of proceedings, or the use of dictating programs in the national language.
The German speaker was Winfried Schubert, former President of the Constitutional Court of Saxony-Anhalt and former President of the Higher Regional Court. In his remarks, the far-reaching competencies of the court presidium in Germany aroused considerable interest. In Northern Macedonia, some of its tasks, including the official assessment of judges' work, are performed by the Judicial Council.
The second day's event, which addressed the role played by heads of public prosecutor's offices, was intended for senior public prosecutors, their assistants and members of the Public Prosecutor's Council.
Presentations were given by Liljana Spasovska, Northern Macedonia Public Prosecutor's Office, and Winfried Schubert, former Prosecutor General.
Both events were characterised by intensive discussions. Another main topic was also the institution of the budget officer or officers. The participants discussed tools like benchmarking and cost-benefit analyses as well as how information obtained using these tools can be used.
The participants were surprised to learn that, according to surveys, trust and confidence in the judiciary is particularly salient in states which do not have a judicial council or where the judicial council only performs an advisory function.
On 28 and 29 May 2019, a two-day seminar on judicial ethics was held at the “Pavel Shatev” Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors in Skopje. The event was organised by the Academy in partnership with the IRZ.
The seminar was opened by Dr. Pavlina Jankukovska from the Academy, who welcomed the participants on behalf of the Academy’s Director. The local IRZ representative, Natasha Andreevska, spoke on behalf of the IRZ.
This was followed by speeches by Fidancho Stoev, a former judge at the Supreme Court of North Macedonia, and by Dr. Pavlina Jankulovska, a public prosecutor at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bitola. Dr. Gerhard Kircher, former President of the Higher Regional Court in Oldenburg, was the German speaker.
The participants in the first day of the seminar were:
The presidents of various courts,
the heads of various public prosecutor’s offices and
members of the Judicial and Public Prosecutors’ councils.
On the following day, employees of the courts and public prosecutor’s offices from all the judicial districts in the country attended the event.
The main focus of the seminar was on the theoretical and practical aspects of professional ethics, with an emphasis on the particular responsibility of representatives of the third state authority. The speeches each led on to lively discussions, which focussed above all on judicial independence and impartiality in accordance with article 6 of the ECHR.
The position of judges and their exposure to corruption was also discussed. In this respect, the participants came to the conclusion that the independence of the judiciary needs to be backed up by the executive authority and policy. This is particularly important because an unreliable justice system is considered to be an obstacle for the foreign investment that is urgently required in North Macedonia.
Judicial ethics are becoming increasingly significant in the context of the current judicial reform in North Macedonia. The event ties in with the previous activities of the IRZ in this area. It also supplements the advice given by the IRZ recently for the revision of the conditions for the qualification of future judges.
On 17 December 2018 the IRZ, the representative of Macedonia to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Judicial Academy jointly organised an event in Skopje on the case law of the ECHR. After the welcome address of the German ambassador Thomas Gerberich, the former Macedonian judge in Strasbourg, Dr. Mirjana Lazarova Traijskovska, gave a talk about the analysis of the ECHR case law to date and its consequences with regard to Macedonia. This analysis had been carried out on the occasion of the 20-year membership of the country in the Council of Europe. On the same occasion a further issue of then newsletter on ECHR case law of particular importance for Macedonia was presented. The newsletter is published in Macedonian as well as in the language of the Albanian minority.
As well as Dr. Trajkovska the former President of the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, Winfried Schubert, was a speaker at the conference. Together with the publications presented, the talks gave a detailed picture of topics needing to be tackled in the future.
On the following day a workshop, organised in cooperation with the Non-Governmental Organisation “Institute for Democracy”, took place dealing with issues regarding the introduction of constitutional complaints in Macedonia. Valuable input was provided by the experience of the Republic of Serbia in this context, where the IRZ had successfully supported the introduction of constitutional complaints.
These events, as well as the talks held at the Constitutional Court on the same occasion, are part of the IRZ’s activities in the field of human rights. Human rights, as well as the rule of law, are focal points in the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans.
Additionally, the professional appraisal of judges according to the German model will be included in the draft of a new court act which will soon be discussed during government consultations. This is based on suggestions by the IRZ. The same applies to several IRZ proposals regarding the drafting of a new administrative procedure act.