Presentation of the analysis “Openness of the judiciary in North Macedonia”

On the 22nd January, the Center for Legal Research and Analysis promoted the analysis „Openness of the Judiciary in North Macedonia”. This event also marks the start of the Open Justice Initiative conducted by the Center.

The event was opened by the President of the Macedonian Judges Association justice Djemali Saiti, who briefly emphasized the importance of these meetings and analysis and welcomed the efforts of all parties involved in the reforms of judiciary. 

The Minister of Justice, Renata Deskoska, elaborated that transparency is only one of the fundamental characteristic of open systems and pointed out that openness is the basis for building citizens trust towards the institutions. For that matter, she stressed out that the Strategy for reforms of judiciary system (2017-2022) is oriented in the direction of greater transparency of the courts that is evident in the amendments of the Law on Judicial Council.

The British Ambassador to Republic of North Macedonia, Ms. Rachel Galloway welcomed the initiative Open justice and noted unquestionable progress in the reform of judiciary in the country. She pointed on the importance of openness of judicial system for reasons that “Justice must be visible” in order to provide greater legal certainty. Ms. Galloway emphasized that major changes in the systems occur precisely through the opening of the institutions to the citizens and that is the main reason why the UK’s support in this segment will continue. 

The guests were also addressed by the acting President of Supreme Court of Republic of North Macedonia, Justice Faik Arslani who pointed out the role of open and transparent institutions in direction of strengthening the fight against corruption. Justice Arslani concluded that precisely the specific role of the judiciary in democratic society is the reason for judiciaries to influence the public opinion through an open system and an approach that among other implies a continuous communication of the judges and courts with the media. 

The President of the Judicial Council, Justice Kiro Zdravev noted that the Judicial Council is currently implementing the recommendations of the main remarks on openness and transparency as part of the adoption of the new Law of Judicial Council. Justice Zdravev pointed that the main remarks by the European Commission experts led by Reinhard Priebe referred to the transparency and openness of the members of Judicial Council and highlighted the need of more independent and effective judiciary, as well as the urgent need of redesigning web pages of the courts so the judgments and other important court data can be easily searchable not just by the judges but by the legal profession as a whole.

The president of the Center of legal research, Ms.Lidija Stojkovska Zafirovska welcomed the guests and underlined that judiciary should go hand in hand with the digital age and its openness should be based on well-know and established principles that are internationally applied. She also referred to the First National Report from the Judicial Indicator Matrix for measuring the performances and reform in the judiciary adding that the survey had more than 7000 respondents who showed that on scale from 1 to 5, respondents rated openness with 2,6 and the independence with 2,2.

In the second part of the event, the author of the analysis Konstantin Bitrakov, researcher in Macedonian academy of sciences and arts presented the findings and recommendations for an open and transparent judiciary. Bitrakov stressed that it is necessary for institutions to meet their obligations, in an efficient and visible way with the support of the professionals and in close cooperation with the civil sector, which has the best understanding of the needs and expectations of the public regarding the work of judiciary organs and institutions, and with the ultimate goal to restore the trust in judiciary and the rule of law.  

The event was wrapped up by presentations by Gordana Gapik-Dimitrovska, national coordinator of Open Government Partnership and Zarko-Hadzi-Zafirov, Senior program manager at the Center, who addressed  the future steps of the initiative Open judiciary as part of Open Government Partnership.

Ms.Gapik pointed that following the launch of Open Government Partnership in 2012 with the development of Actions plans of the Government through incorporation of the Parliament in 2018, it is a true pleasure to testify the integration of the judiciary in this Initiative bringing all three branches of power in North Macedonia to the already established standards of openness of institutions. Ms.Gapik stressed that after the successful implementation on this activity, North Macedonia will be one of the few countries in the world and an absolute leader in the region and Europe that is committed to openness toward citizens by all three powers..

At the end, Zarko Hadzi-Zafirov, reminded that through a consistent implementation of this initiative we will have opportunities to hear the positive sides of judiciary which are not presented to the public, but they do exist and should be recognized.

The analysis “Openness of the judiciary in North Macedonia” and the organization of the event are part of the program “Improving transparency, legal certainty and efficiency in judicial system in North Macedonia” implemented by the Center of Legal Research and Analysis and funded by the British embassy Skopje.

Gorica Nadjinska