Presentation of Second national Report on the Matrix for measuring the performance and reform in the judiciary

On May 12, 2021, the Center for Legal Research and Analysis presented the Second National Report on the Matrix for Measuring the performance and reform in the judiciary.

The report is a result of the second national measurement conducted through the Matrix of indicators for monitoring the judicial reform, which is envisaged as a mechanism in the Judicial Reform Strategy 2017-2022 in the area of​​Strategic Planning and Policy Making.

In his introductory speech as moderator of the event, the President of the Macedonian Judges Association, judge Dzemali Saiti, welcomed the entire process of preparing the Report, emphasizing its great importance as a document that provides credible analysis, based on scientific methods and empirical research, especially in measuring the effects of judicial reform.

The Minister of Justice Bojan Maricic in his address welcomed the long-standing cooperation with the CLRA and the Judicial Council, stating that the second measurement allows authentic and realistic insight in monitoring and comparison of reforms in the justice sector, which at the same time enables general review of the current situation in the judiciary, directly following the perceptions of the most affected stakeholders in the judiciary as well as the assessments of international reports. He especially emphasized the satisfaction of improving the perceptions of judges as one of the most relevant groups in terms of human resource organization and transparency in the process of making decisions. According to him, the increased positive perception of judges in relieving from the external pressure in the judiciary, as well as the participation of all important factors through an inclusive work process will lead to increased independence and in that line restore citizens trust in the judiciary.

The President of the Judicial Council, Ms. Pavlina Crvenkovska, also mentioned the cooperation with the Judicial Council and the CLRA as a positive step in the creation of documents that include an enthusiastic process towards judicial reform, based on international European standards and principles of an equal judiciary. She also emphasized the high responsiveness of the relevant target groups, especially the courts and the court administration. Crvenkovska stated that the Report is a document that will be important for all stakeholders in the judiciary, in the daily challenges of their process of making decisions.

The representative of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Skopje, Ms. Rachel Galloway welcomed the ambitious preparation of the Report in a period of restrictive activities which implies a reduced opportunity for direct communication with relevant stakeholders in the judiciary. Ms. Galloway also in her speech mentioned that the judicial reform is of great importance because it significantly affects the good public interest. She also expressed the support of the British Embassy in the further continuous monitoring of the reforms in all segments of the justice sector to establish a quality judiciary.

The President of the CLRA, Ms. Lidija Stojkova Zafirovska noted that the Report is the result of a comprehensive and in-depth process of monitoring the perceptions of a significant number of respondents in the field of justice, which document meets the real needs of the Macedonian judiciary, giving a detailed review of the international conditions and reports on the judiciary. She welcomed the participation and commitment of all target groups, pointing out that the high percentage of responsiveness in the analysis indicates the common commitment and aspiration in promoting equity in the decision making process and that it is possible only when all stakeholders are involved.

Mr. Zharko Aleksov, a key legal expert in the process noted that the relevance of the document comes from the specific target groups and is directly related to the issue of the decision making process and dealing with anomalies in the overall judicial system. Regarding efficiency as the first area of ​​evaluation, he noted that the perception of the respondents is that the area is at a relatively satisfactory level, despite the insufficient number of court administration and fulfillment of certain technical aspects in the judicial process. Unfortunately, the computer equipment in the courts remains directly dependent on donor aid and due to lack of funds, the restitution is not at a satisfactory level.

Professor Gordana Lazhetic pointed out that transparency and accountability is not at a satisfactory level due to irregular updates of the website of the courts as a fundamental approach of the citizens to decisions and the ability to easily monitor the work of the court. An additional problem occurs in the department of public relations in the courts because they have only formally appointed person for it, but in reality, that task is executed by the presidents of the courts, which further affects its organization.

Mr. Alexander Godzo in terms of quality of judicial justice said there was some positive perception towards noticing a little progress in ensuring the comprehensive court decision. He stated that the adopted methodologies in the past period for measuring the quality of judicial justice will lead to a higher level of legal argumentation of court decisions, which is in favor of providing greater legal certainty.

Unfortunately, independence and impartiality remain the lowest rated area, despite the improvements made in the legislation and bylaws, in terms of appointment, promotion, disciplinary proceedings, and dismissal of judges. The selection and dismissal of judges according to the majority of respondents from all categories are subject to external pressures and influences and are a result of insufficient transparency.

Mr. Adis Hodzich, an international expert for statistical analysis and a member of the CEPEJ working group, highlighted that monitoring the reforms, and thus the gradual improvement and enhancement of the performance of the judiciary, is of significant importance, having in mind that this is a related union, relevant for other economic and social parameters in the country. He also noted that judges’ perceptions differ greatly from other target groups, but again little progress has been made on the results of the first measurement. The main gap in perceptions exists between judges as the main suppliers of Justice and the parties, which leads to opening the possibility of creating a specific action plan to reduce the gap by improving perceptions of the parties for the quality of the judiciary. An additional aspect in creating policies that will reduce the gap between the mentioned target groups can be the positive experiences of European countries in the region that have established a serious system for monitoring judicial reform, based on the principles of quality and independent justice, which contain all 5 areas of evaluation.

At the very end, great satisfaction was once again expressed by all present, with aspiration for continuation in monitoring the progress of the justice sector and contribution to the reforms.

The measurement was conducted and the report prepared within the project “Embedding analytical and monitoring tools to support the justice sector reforms in the Republic of North Macedonia” implemented by CLRA, and supported by the British Embassy Skopje.

Gorica Nadjinska