November 2021, Tirana, Albania

The domestic law gives only limited advice to Vetting Bodies in Albania on how to work with me­dia if it comes to conflict between the right of the media on information, the right for privacy of the vetted magistrates and the smooth flow of the vetting procedures. Organized in co-operation with Special Appeals Chamber (AC), Independent Qualification Commission (IQC) and Public Commissioner’s Office (PC) and Co-organized and co-funded by the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) of the European Commission,  the workshop “Judicial Communication for the Vetting Bodies in Albania” was designed to give guidance in the field of ethical and legal matters related to communications with media, the importance of strategic media communication and practi­cal advice from communications experts and experienced spokesperson.

The main objective of the workshop “Judicial Communication for the Vetting Bodies in Albania” was to provide the beneficiaries with practical advice and guidance on the principles of judicial communication, media engagement and their application in the activities of the re-evaluation of institutions, with the aim of improving their communication with the press and thereby contributing to a better understanding of the vetting process. The workshop was focused on crisis communication, regular communication and access to information requests.Some examples of the jurisprudence of the European Court for Human Rights and other national courts were in­troduced to the participants as well as number of international instruments that give good guidance, in particular the Opinion no 8 (2013) of the Consultative Council of European Pro­secutors on Relations between Prosecutors and the Media. The workshop culminated in a practical exercise, in which the participants could apply their newly acquired skills to a study case and receive advisory comments from the experts.

The important topics were presented by the international experts Ms Anette Milk, Senior Prosecutor and Media Spokesperson at District Prosecution Office Essen from Germany, MsKsenija Renko, Senior Communication Expert and Director of JUPITER Strategic Consulting Ltd. from Croatia and Mr Nicola Piacente, Chief Prosecutor at the Prosecution Office Como from Italy. The experts stressed the advantages but also necessity of foresighted, transparent and stra­tegic relations with the media and offered means to do so. By applying good practice and strategically designed communica­tion, the judicial bodies in the Vetting process in Albania will be able to achieve a reliable partnership with the media and the well-informed public, a positive perception of the judiciary and citizen’s trust and faith in judicial bodies. Consistent communication of judicial bodies with the external public will insure increase of understanding and credibility of the judiciary, decreasing the number of wrong interpretations and misunderstanding and satisfaction of the end users – the public.

From: Exit Staff 01-12-2021 at 16:23

In December 2021, the Venice Commission has presented the Parliament of Albania with a draft opinion that suggests constitutional amendments to extend the expiring mandate of judicial vetting bodies should be approved. As part of Albania’s far-reaching justice reform, two commissions have been tasked with vetting all judges and prosecutors. According to the constitution, their mandates expire in June 2022, but only half of the country’s magistrates have gone through the process. The Socialist majority in Parliament requests that their mandates be extended for another two years, with the support of the International Monitoring Operations (ONM), the EU and US.”

Read more: Extending the Mandate of Vetting Bodies: The Options on the Table

October 2021, CEELI Institute Prague, Czech Republic

An increasingly important aspect of the CEELI Institute’s continuing engagement with judiciaries across the region involves exploration of the relationships between the judiciary and the media. Discussions and materials addressing this topic are in high demand among judges who are faced with increasing media pressure, especially while handling politically sensitive cases and high-level corruption cases. Judges must also increasingly discuss the potential pitfalls surrounding the use of social media platforms. Judges are concerned about their rights to privacy in an age of increasing media attention, and are also unclear on where the boundaries should be set in dealing with the press. They are also challenged in balancing the public’s interest against the rights of the parties before the court. The CEELI Institute has been honored to work with an increasingly diverse cadre of experts in this field to explore these critical issues. We also work to foster communication skills of courts and judges in dealing with the public, and in responding to outside scrutiny. These issues are increasingly incorporated into many of the judicial programs now organized by the Institute.

As part of our ongoing work with the Central & Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network, the CEELI Institute organized a two-day workshop to strengthen dialogue and communication skills for judges and court spokespersons at the end of October. The training entitled “Strengthening Communication Skills for Judges in Dealing with the Media and the Public,” gathered judges, spokespersons, academics, and communication and rule of law experts from across Central and Eastern Europe and specifically from Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and Slovenia. The tailored workshop provided the participants with knowledge on how to give effective media statements and to make the most out of media appearances, as well as identifying best practices in managing communications during a crisis. The faculty shared regional case studies from Croatia, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia and many participants shared experiences from their own countries’ judiciaries.

Kudos to the fellow faculty members for making this possible:

Dr Freda Grealy, Ksenija Renko, judge Radmila Dičić Dragičević, judge Branko Hrvatin, judge Davor Dubravica, Andrej Božinovski, David Sellers, judge Paul Byron, judge Bernard McCluskey, judge Gabriela Gajdova, judge Gjorgji Andonov, Ioanna Lachana.

by Adrien MASSON

The innovative work at CEELI Institute has the capacity to lay the foundation for ground-breaking policy actions across the jurisprudences in Central and Eastern Europe. As a proud Faculty for this workshop on “Strengthening Communication Skills for Judges in Dealing with the Media and the Public” we discussed the approaches in choosing the best way to convey the message to the public and keep the balance between the respect of the presumption of innocence and keeping the public informed. We were pleased to see participants demonstrating a firm commitment to improving communication with the public and the media.

As expected, the approaches differ quite a bit, but it’s encouraging to see judges and spokespersons bringing new attention to choosing appropriate ways for communication, harmonization, and dialogue with the media and the public. The wind is blowing strongly in the direction of a new strategic communications model, suggesting giving life to Opinions 7,8,12 and 24 of the Consultative Council of European Judges in forming specialized bodies for easing of communication between judges and journalists. Judicial transparency and easy communication can be the new, achievable frontier for multilateralism.

December 2019 CEELI Institute Prague, Czech Republic

Over the past year, the CEELI Institute has produced and published a number of substantive tools, guidelines, and monographs on topics of current relevance to judges, lawyers and human rights defenders across Europe and beyond. Among them, CEELI is delighted to introduce the most recent publication, Practical Guidelines on Use of Social Media by Judges: Central and Eastern European Context. The Guidelines recognize that participation on social media platforms is an intrinsic part of modern life; they also recognize that for many judges, participation on social media actually contributes to their public outreach efforts and their effort to build public interest in and trust of the judiciary.

Since there have been very little specific guidance and very few standards to date regarding these issues, judges often have to come up with their own individual solutions or approaches, which might lead them into situations involving conflicts of interests and ethical dilemmas. The new Guidelines represent several years of work by judges from CEELI’s Network of Central and Eastern European Judges, and summarize research and discussions that Network members have undertaken over the past several years. The goal of the document is to provide judges with a clear overview of the pros and cons of using social media and offer recommendations on how to use it smartly and safely. The document is relevant to any individual judge who is active on social media as well as to anyone responsible for setting national guidelines for judicial conduct. This includes members of judicial councils, court presidents, officials from judicial associations and any other members of the judiciary who need to set regulations on the behaviour of judges on social media. This publication is a testament to the extraordinary commitment of time and effort by the Network judges who participated in this project and who undertook extensive independent research and editing, coming together periodically at the Institute to coordinate and collaborate on their work.

Thanks also to Ksenija Renko,Jupiter Strategic Consultant Ltd. and Marko Rakar, Mrak Ltd, regional public relations and communication experts, to David Sellers, Public Affairs Officer, Administrative office of the US Courts, Barbora Field and Freda Grealy, CEELI Institute Program Managers, and Katherine Sorrell, CEELI Institute Legal Intern (William and Mary Law School) for their valuable contributions in developing these Guidelines. The Institute also wishes to thank the Hon. Judith Macaluso, Janet Katz, and Jane Mahoney for their invaluable assistance in editing this document.

Download the Guidelines


1. Represent the Judiciary Well in ALL Social Media Content

Always maintain a professional tone and maintain an awareness of your role as a judge even if posting in a personal context. Anyone with a career in the judiciary needs to be careful about what they write and what they publish online, whether via email, text, or social media posts, since digital content is so easily and widely accessible and could impact their work in a variety of ways.

2. Never Comment on Pending Cases

In line with the Bangalore Principles comments about court judgments or ongoing cases are particularly sensitive, because they can raise suspicions about the impartiality and objectivity of judges and the judicial system.

3. Do Not Use Social Media to Investigate Parties

Judges must consider only the evidence presented by the parties and any facts properly subject to judicial notice. Judges should not independently investigate case facts by means other than those provided by law.

4. Mind Whom You “Friend” and What or Whom You “Like”

When declaring yourself a friend with someone on social media or liking particular posts, members of the judiciary should take care not to compromise their neutrality. Interaction on social media can create the perception of bias, even if it does not exist.

5. Avoid Political and Commercial Comments

Judges should stay out of political debates and not publicly disclose their political views.

6. Adjust and Monitor Your Online Visibility

Carry out regular review of your online social presence and adjust your privacy settings if necessary.

7. Protect Your Personal Data

Think twice before revealing any personal information. Once you post personal information on Facebook or any other social network, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to keep it private. Such personal data has a permanent presence and can be recovered, circulated, or printed years after being sent or posted online.

8. Educate Your Family and Friends

Talk to your family and friends to ensure they understand the sensitivity of the judicial work you conduct and potential consequences of their actions online if they reveal personal information or photographs that could be linked to your profile.

9. Using Social Media to Educate the Public

Social media platforms can be used as a positive tool to engage and educate the public, promote transparency, advocate, explain the importance of judicial tasks, and provide information about the activities of judicial institutions. Many judges throughout Central and Eastern Europe, and beyond, have successfully used social media to this end.

10. Continue to Educate Yourself about Social Media

Social media is here to stay and judicial training and continuing education on social media use is critical. Among other things, judges must be familiar with the operation of social media as issues related to its use will increasingly be relevant to the cases before them.

November, 2019, Belgrade, Serbia

High-Level International Anti-Corruption Conference “Fight against Corruption for Prosperity in South-East Europe” was held from 3-5 November 2019 in Belgrade organized by the Ministry of Justice and the EU funded project Prevention and Fight against Corruption.

The conference aimed to highlight and promote the complementarity efforts of the international and national anti-corruption and integrity mechanisms and authorities, including the results of the specialized law enforcement institutions in fight against corruption in Serbia, region and beyond. More than 200 delegates from 14 countries attended the conference. The opening ceremony was addressed by Serbian Minister of Justice Nela Kuburović and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Ambassador Sem Fabrizi. The Minister of Justice stressed that the Government of Serbia demonstrates a clear political will and unambiguous commitment to a strategic approach to the fight against corruption. Aware of the far-reaching consequences that corruption has on the rule of law, social equality and economic development, Serbia began a systematic fight against corruption in 2012. Kuburović stressed that Serbia has more than ever strengthened and rounded off its repressive mechanism in this area by adopting the Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of State Authorities in Combating Organized Crime, Terrorism and Corruption, as well as reforming the Criminal Code by introducing seven new anti-corruption crime measures while others are improved.

The Minister of Justice emphasized that Serbia paid equal attention to preventive action. In May this year a new Law on Prevention of Corruption was adopted, in November last year the Law on Lobbying was adopted while from 2015 Serbia became a pioneer in protection of whistleblowers by adopting the Law on protection of whistleblowers. In the 18 months since the enforcement of the Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of State Bodies in the Suppression of Organized Crime, Terrorism and Corruption began, 749 persons have been convicted of corruption offenses. During that period, special departments of the higher public prosecutor’s offices acted on criminal charges filed against 15,222 persons, of which 1,269 persons were indicted and 771 verdicts were rendered, of which 749 were convicted.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi said that Serbia is on its way to the EU and that as such it is fighting corruption, that several important laws have been adopted to this end, and that there is now an emphasis on the implementation of those laws. Fabrizi stressed that it is very important that laws do not remain a dead letter and that, if the laws are enforced, the confidence of citizens, companies and the international community will be greater. EU countries are a positive example in this area, as the Corruption Perceptions Index, measured by Transparency International, is among the top 20 in the EU’s 14-member states and wants to share its experiences in the region.

“Serbia has taken a number of crucial steps in the past period, which helped build a framework of legislation and institutions that can help deter corruption and related phenomena. There is important work that is being carried out by the newly established special specialized authorities to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate corruption and organized crime in line with the law”, Ambassador Fabrizi says. The EU expects Serbia to actively apply these legal solutions, which is why we will monitor the results presented through the data together with the public, says Ambassador Fabrizi.

“We have a long road ahead in the European Union and in Serbia and in the countries of the region. I assure you that we will continue to work together. I thank all those involved in the implementation of projects, and especially the fighters against corruption, who are facing this phenomenon on a daily basis,” concludes the Head of the EU Delegation.

The ministers of justices, prosecutors, heads of state bodies for the prevention and fight against corruption, as well as representatives of the civil sector from Serbia, Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey discussed the improvement and strengthening of cooperation between the relevant anti-corruption institutions and services. Within the conference, a ministerial segment was led by Minister Kuburović, addressing participating ministers of justice, as well as four panels on new investigative mechanisms and international cooperation in prosecuting corruption cases, the role of state authorities in preventing corruption, the role of civil society in preventing corruption and usage of modern technologies in the fight against corruption.

The conclusions of the international conference conducted by senior experts Roman Prah from Slovenia, Ksenija Renko from Croatia and Veliborka Staletović from Serbia, emphasized that effective fight against corruption requires:

• Effective cooperation and synergy of all national and international bodies;

• Improving the capacity of all bodies in the prevention and fight against corruption;

• Ensuring minimum standards in the field of corruption prevention – promoting institutional governance and the exchange of information and good practice between national and anti-corruption bodies;

• Improving the efficiency of public administration, increasing transparency, accountability, integrity in governance and decision-making in public policy-making – which will further mitigate the risks associated with corruption;

• The civil sector has a very important role to play in the fight against corruption, which has been recognized in all participating countries;

• Civil society organizations, in addition to raising awareness of the importance of preventing and combating corruption, must constantly monitor the functioning of government bodies and institutions;

• With an independent and strong judiciary and good laws, preventing corruption requires use of modern technologies, which will strengthen the internal capacities of public authorities in the digital age;

• Such modern anti-corruption policies make it possible to effectively measure corruption and assess its impact on economic development and the rule of law, and links between corruption and organized crime;

• Continuous trainings and exchange of information of all relevant actors in the prevention and fight against corruption.

July 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Forum aimed at raising awareness on freedom of expression and judicial ethics and discussing the balance between freedom of expression of judges and modern challenges.  The event was focused on general legal framework and country – specific experience; best practices shared by international experts, main challenges of Social Media and Judicial ethics, and recommendations on the developing social media guidelines for judges.

The Forum was opened by Independent Inspector KetevanTsintsadze, Acting Chief Justice Mzia Todua, Secretary of the High Council of Justice Giorgi Mikautadze, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Georgia Cristian Urse, the Head of EU4Justice project Renate Winter, and the Head of the USAID/PROLoG Giorgi Chkheidze. 

The topics were presented by international judges and experts with significant expertise in this fields. On the panel on Social Media and judicial ethics and specific recommendations on how to use Social Media for judges were included Mjriana Visnetin, Council of Europe Expert, Judge Duro Mateus Cardoso, EU4Justice, Judiciary Support Project, James E. Moliterno, Vincent Bradford Professor of Law – USAID/PROLoG, Judge Ketevan Meskhishvili, Tbilisi Court of Appeals, Judge Ladislav Derka who is an author of the Czech Guidelines on the use of social media by judges and communication expert Ksenija Renko, Jupiter Strategic Consulting, Croatia, who is cooperating with the CEELI Institute on developing of “Practical Guidelines on Use of Social Media by Judges: Central and Eastern Europian Context”.

Mrs. Ksenija Renko, Jupiter Strategic Consulting, presented recommendations with examples of social media misconduct that can compromise the independence, integrity and impartiality of a judge, undermine public confidence in the judiciary, and lead to disciplinary action against a judge. She explained that the CEELI Practical Guidelines will summarize these considerations and provide judges with clear overview on the pros and cons of social media use, and offer recommendations on how to use it safely. This document will be relevant to individual judges who are active on social media and also to those responsible for setting national guidelines for judicial conduct, including members of judicial council, court presidents, officials from judicial associations, and any other members of judiciary who need to set regulations on the behaviour of judges using social media.

April 2018, UN Headquarters, Vienna, Austria

UNODC has consulted with approximately 4,000 judges from around the world and organized seven regional preparatory meetings over the last two years, to ascertain the successes and challenges faced by judges regarding judicial integrity, in line with article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Ultimately, it is the recommendations expressed in these consultations that have provided UNODC with the basis for structuring the Global Judicial Integrity Network.

The launch event itself gave participants the chance to collaborate in person with other members of the judiciary, discuss key issues with Chief Justices from a variety of Member States, and provide recommendations on how members can work together to promote and strengthen judicial integrity through the Global Judicial Integrity Network.

During the launch, UNODC elaborated on the intended services and objectives of the Global Judicial Integrity Network, as well as took into consideration the findings of the participants. The final session of the event focused on the future activities of the Global Judicial Integrity Network.

Promotion of judicial impartiality and integrity are key objectives of the Global Judicial Integrity Network. The use of social media by judges poses challenges in meeting those objectives. While judges living in a modern world seek to conduct normal lives in a digital age, and try to balance their personal freedoms with their professional accountability, social media presents them with dangerous potential traps. Candid remarks on social media can indicate preferences and bias that undermine impartiality, and may even highlight potential conflicts that impact a judge’s integrity. As seen during the meeting of the Expert Group on Judicial Ethics Training Tools, judiciaries from around the world are looking for good practices and effective standards that can be implemented by their national judiciaries regarding the use of social media. During the panel, the participants discussed such recommendations based on collected best practices. They also heard first-hand about the positive aspects of social media, including its use for effective social outreach. Participation in such outreach activities is increasingly essential for the judiciary in building public support for their work.

Social media is a significant presence in the daily lives of people all over the world, including judges and judicial officials. This is especially true for younger judges, who have come of age in a digital world. Participation in various forms of new media forms by judges, however, gives rise to special ethical concerns and challenges. These include the propriety of content posted by judges, the unintended demonstration of bias or interest by a judge via his or her posts, and the unintended consequences arising from judicial interaction with third parties. The behaviour of judges on social media is visible to the public and therefore the activities of judges in their private life can harm the public trust in the judiciary as well as raise the question on impartiality and fairness of judge´s trails. On the flip side, social media can be an effective tool for outreach and public education. The use of social media may also challenge the public’s traditional perception of courts and judicial officers. At the end of the day, social media is also just a fact of modern life. A blanket instruction to judges to simply “stay off social media” is not a realistic directive in the current age.

The aim of panel Managing the Risks and Benefits of Use of Social Media by Judges was to identify and address some of the fundamental ethical implications for members of the judiciary of maintaining an on-line presence or using social networking, and to also provide practical recommendations and guidelines for judges on how to use social media ethically and responsibly. Contrary to some current guidance, we do not believe that an admonition to simply stay off of social media is realistic in today’s world. Limiting the use of social media by judges has been a recurring topic for discussion at the CEELI Institute, particularly within its Central and Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network, which is a platform for rising judges from the region, committed to addressing challenges related to strengthening the independence, integrity and accountability of the judiciary. The Network has identified examples and good practices that can be applicable beyond Central and Eastern Europe. These include the “Guidelines on Social Media Use for Judges”, developed by the Czech Union of Judges. These guidelines remain among the few existing formal recommendations for judges issued in any jurisdiction, to date.

The topic was presented by Network members who have significant expertise in this field. Included on this panel were Czech judge Ladislav Derka who is an author of the Czech guidelines on the use of social media by judges; Romanian judge Cristi Danilet who has significant experience with promoting and presenting his opinion on the judiciary and judicial issues via social media platforms, and who himself has thousands of followers on Facebook; and communication expert Ksenija Renko, JUPITER Strategic Consulting, from Croatia, who has recently cooperated on judicial communication strategy with Croatian Association of Croatian Judges and Ministry of Justice and has developed a series of recommendations for judges on how to behave on social media. Judge Barry Clarke, of the United Kingdom, who has spoken widely on this topic, also joined the panel. The outcome of the session is relevant to anyone responsible for setting guidelines for judicial conduct, including members of Judicial Councils, Court Presidents, officials from judicial associations, and any other members of the judiciary who need to set regulation on the behaviour of judges on social media. Those who are in the process of drafting or are thinking about drafting the Guidelines on Use of Social Media for Judges, Court spokespersons, or others responsible for public outreach and fostering better public understanding of the work of the courts.

The panellists pointed out that judges cannot completely stay disengaged from social media as it is a globally present part of life for a large number of the world’s population. Judges need to have an understanding of how social media influences public dialogue and communication in this day and age. The courts and national judiciaries should use this tool for outreach to the public, educating them and building trust in the judiciary. In this regard, the panellists encouraged the national judiciaries to elaborate judicial communication strategies, as well as guidelines on the use of social media. Guidelines on the use of social media are especially important for individual judges who have decided to be present on social media platforms. As there is no particular standard on these issues, judges often have to come up with their own individual solutions and approaches — which might lead them into situations involving conflicts of interests. Guidelines should set the limits on how to behave on social media in order to not undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Guidelines should be developed based on good examples and best experiences that the judges have so far with the use of social media. It has been emphasized that all judges need to understand that although they might not be present on social media, their digital foot print might still be present in the virtual world and thus they need to take steps to secure their personal information in a way that will not have any influence on their independence and integrity. In this regard, effective judicial trainings should be provided on how to ensure the safe virtual environment for judges in order that they comply with judicial ethics.

Overall the judges agreed that global guidelines for judges on how to behave on social media are necessary. The CEELI Institute suggests creating a working group composed of judges, along with communication and legal experts, which will work on drafting “Guidelines on use of social media by judges”. The presenters and participants also agreed that judicial training on the security risks arising from their digital footprints has to be developed and introduced to judges globally. The judges should also be encouraged to educate their family members and friends about how their online activities can cause security risks for their relatives who are judges. The national judiciaries should be supported in the development and introduction of national communication strategies for the judiciaries. Social media is a useful tool to promote the judiciary and to exchange, effectively, information with the general public. Strategic approaches to this issue can help to improve public trust in the judiciary. Effective judicial training is essential to protect judges and to maintain compliance with ethical standards.

The judges discussed practical recommendations on how to behave on social media. Mrs. Ksenija Renko stressed that judges cannot stay away from the social media. It is the most effective way of communication because it provides real time news, increases public understanding and public trust and increases transparency and accountability. To use the media effectively, judges need to learn how to present their work in the media. Judges must carefully navigate their ethical concerns when communicating on social networks. That is not simple because the social media landscape is constantly shifting and there is often still no official guidance for judge’s communication on Social Media. Judges are forced to interpret rules on their own. To begin with, a judge must conduct all extrajudicial activities in a manner that does not interfere with applicable judicial codes of ethics. The fact that this kind of communication poses some risks does not mean that judges should stay away from social media. On the contrary, judges must maintain contact with the world in which they are asked to adjudicate. They must have an understanding of social circumstances, problems and dilemmas of people who appear before them. Social media is just one of the new communication tools and it is the behaviour and statements made by judges that can violate ethical duties – not the fact they are expressed on social media.

We live in a world where social media has become the main means of communication and it continues to develop rapidly. New possibilities for extended communication on the web and social media allow courts to communicate in completely new, creative and innovative ways and to ensure that courts are open, accessible and understandable to everyone. Social media actually offers a great opportunity for courts to meet the needs of their public and promote transparency for the purpose of supporting trust and confidence. Because of that, judges and courts should board that train. But they should also bear in mind that communication on social networks is neither simple nor harmless and that constant education of judges on a broad range of new media, on new communication principles, and about the technologies that make them possible is an imperative. Also, there should be clear rules that reflect common understanding of social media. These elements are of crucial importance for impartiality, integrity and transparency of judging in the 21st century.

The participants confirmed that judiciaries from around the world are looking for good practices and effective standards that can be implemented by their national judiciaries regarding the use of social media. Best practice guidelines will need to be developed which can suggest practices that will outline both the dangers and the value of social media usage. The CEELI Institute and the panel members and session participants are all among those willing to actively contribute to the creation of such a document. The participants recognized that the participation in social media platforms is an intrinsic part of modern life and that participation in such outreach activities is increasingly normal for judges. They also recognized that social media is an effective tool for the judiciary and individual judges to communicate with the public and to build public support and trust in their work.

October 2017, Ankara, Turkey

As one of the last activities under a European Union-funded project aiming at promoting an ethical culture in society, an international conference gathered the Minister for National Education Mr. İsmet Yılmaz, the Minister of Customs and Trade, Mr. Bülent Tüfenkçi, the representative of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Counsellor Dr. Michael Rupp, as well as other representatives and stakeholders, including experts from European countries and international organisations such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Transparency International.

The €2.5 million EU-funded project aims at strengthening the Council of Ethics for Public Officials and NGOs, and entails 2 pillars: one Technical Assistance implemented with the Council of Ethics and one grant implemented with NGOs in the field.

Turkey set up a Council of Ethics for Public Service in 2004 and adopted a Code of Ethics for Public Officials in the following year. The Council is responsible for monitoring the implementation of this Code. Ethics commissions established in ministries evaluate ethical practices and make recommendations. The project provides technical support to strengthen the capacity of the Council of Ethics. It is supporting the Ethics Platform which is a tool established under previous EU funding, bringing together all relevant public institutions and civil society organisations. The platform is promoting ethics and developing strategies and policies in the field.

The EU anticipates that the outcome under this project will significantly contribute to a greater understanding of ethical standards, which will contribute to corruption prevention in Turkey and support the fulfilment of the Copenhagen Criteria for EU accession and the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

On the main panel on Global Concept on Prevention of corruption and Promotion of Ethics – International standards, good practices and different organizational models – were included Egidijus Radzevicius, Deputy director of Presentation of the Lithuanian Independent. Anti-Corruption Agency who presented Lithuanian Model in Preventing and Combating of Corruption; Ksenija Renko, Communication Expert, JUPITER Strategic Consulting Ltd., who presented Public Awareness Campaigns for Anticorruption and Promotion of Ethics implemented in Croatia and Serbia; Natali Phalén, Secretary general of The Swedish Anti-Corruption Institute for Business Sector who was talking about efforts to Prevent Corruption and Swedish Practice; Sigall Horovitz, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime who was talking about global efforts in prevention of corruption; Roberto Kukutschka, Researcher – Integrity Expert from Transparency International in Berlin gave presentation of the report on National Integrity System Assessment of Turkey”.

September 2017, Zadar, Croatia

The 3rd International Judicial Conference was dedicated to the role of contemporary judiciary in enhancing public confidence in the justice system by improving the efficiency of the judiciary and facilitating access to justice. For the first time in the Republic of Croatia, judges discussed the role of social media as an important communication channel that can significantly enhance communication between courts, journalists and citizens, with the aim of promoting confidence in the judiciary. One of the important topics was communicating in a global environment where spreading false information through social networks is becoming a serious threat.

The 3rd International Judicial Conference was organized by the Association of Croatian Judges in cooperation with the University of Zadar and with support of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia, the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, the City of Zadar, Zadar County and the CEELI Institute in Prague. The importance of this event was highlighted by Minister of Justice Dražen Bošnjaković, President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia Đuro Sessa and Mayor of Zadar County Božidar Longin as well as Program Director of the 3rd International Judicial Conference, judge Davor Dubravica.      

The sole fact that 90 judges from 22 countries participated on 3rd International Judicial Conference also showed great interest in the topics. Participants were presented with the European Union Judicial Situation Survey 2017, developed by the European Commission as a comparative information tool to help its member states in improving the efficiency of their national judicial systems, thereby ensure quality, independence and efficiency of judicial systems.                                                                

For the first time, new media were presented to the judges as important tools for effective court communication in changing world of communication – because they are significantly transforming the way people seek out information and provide opportunities for courts to listen to public concerns and to promote openness and accountability. Also, they can significantly encourage conversation between courts, journalists and citizens and seize the opportunity for courts to transparently promote trust and confidence in Judiciary. Undoubtedly, communication in environment where spread of false information through social networks is becoming a serious threat.

Mr. David Sellers, Assistant Director, Office of Public Affairs in Administrative Office of the United States Courts and communication experts from Croatia, Ksenija Renko, Jupiter Strategic Consultants, and Marko Rakar, Mrak services, addressed all those topics and open discussion on how to communicate and preserve faith and trust in Judiciary in a post-truth era when facts and truth are no longer privileged and when so called “alternative facts” do not care about objective standards or factual accuracy.

Presenters also provided judges with good practices in court communication on Internet and different social networks, such as judge’s communication on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, blogs etc. (sharing photos from holidays, socializing, dating…), sharing links on topics that can become future cases which involve some of the judges, prosecutors or attorneys. Main questions which were addressed and opened debate were: Is this kind of communication adequate for Judicial profession – or not?  Should Judge be a member of online social networking community? Should Judge use social network to comment recent political and social issues? Is LinkedIn appropriate for judiciary profession? If we consider two main professions in judiciary practice – lawyers and judges in e.g. LinkedIn world, we could face the next three relevant questions: Should lawyer accept an invitation to connect from a judge? Should lawyer send an invitation to connect with judge? Should lawyer endorse judge’s legal skills or write a recommendation on the judge’s profile page – or vice-versa?

All those topics were highly appreciated and discussed among the participants as judges in CEE countries face huge pressure from the media, especially when handling politically sensitive cases and high-level corruption cases.  

October, 2016, Ohrid, Macedonia

The purpose of the International Judicial Conference organized by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia, The Macedonian Judges Association and The CEELI Institute in Prague, and with the support of the Embassy of the United States in the Republic of Macedonia as well as Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, was to strengthen the capacities and cooperation between associations of judges, the European Network of Judicial Chambers and other relevant partners and to establish standards to strengthen the independence of the judiciary by reviewing and re-examining the provisions of all types of judicial responsibility – of criminal, civil or disciplinary liability. Enhancing transparency of judiciary towards media with adequate respect of the principles of an independent judiciary, rights of individual and protection of public interest was also one of the important initiatives of this conference.

International Judicial Conference was opened by Ms. Lidija Nedelkova, President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia, David Stephenson, Pol/Econ Chief, US Embassy to the Republic of Macedonia, Christopher Lehmann, Executive Director the CEELI institute in Prague and Judge Djemali Saiti, Ph.D., President of the Macedonian Judges Association

The main goal of the International Judicial Conference was to initiate legislative reforms by making recommendations, as well as strategic judicial reform guidelines that will guarantee fair trial, strengthen judicial independence, transparency and accountability, and promote regional commitment to the rule of law. The lack of debate between judges and the exchange of good practices and experiences was the main motive for this regional co-operation which will further strengthen the capacities and co-operation of regional associations of judges, the European Judicial Council Network and the CEELI Institute, resulting in the publication and dissemination of detailed information, reports and joint publications, judicial opinion surveys and analytical documents.

The topics on importance of communication with the media and the public and communication as a basis for building trust were presented by international judges and experts with significant expertise in this fields. On the panel on relation between media and judiciary were included Judge Wlodzimierz Wróbel, Supreme Court of the Republic of Poland, Judge Faik Arslani, Supreme Court of the Republic of Macedonia and communication expert Ms. Ksenija Renko, Jupiter Strategic Communication, from Croatia.

Very often judges are subject to public and media influences. Although their personal opinion must not have an impact on the judicial decision in any case – not only because public and media opinions are often legally irrelevant, but also because they are often based on incomplete or fabricated information – sometimes such public criticism is a consequence of dissatisfaction of certain parties or interest groups, especially when it comes to a process that is of significant public interest. Due to such pressure, judges sometimes bring unexpected and surprising verdicts. Consequently, the public tends to interpret their decisions as unjust, due to common belief that they were brought under pressure from certain interest groups. In this context, one must consider the fact that a judge, considering a psychological angle, is also open to the influence of the media as any other human being. With an aim to protect and save independence and impartiality of judiciary, judge’s professional duty is to be resolutely and indisputably responsible in their communication with public and media.

To perform successfully its noble and demanding mission, courts need to improve and settle a sustainable system of strategic communication. Such system will allow efficient and effective functioning because the courts should become a place where all employees have to own organization’s mission and vision, its social goals and common values to share. They must know individual and team assignments and be familiar with the information flow. In a situation when external communication is constantly under public scrutiny, the high-quality internal communication is a must for the organization such as the court. Successfully designed and implemented, internal communication provides good functioning of the organization and satisfaction of employees who work there. It gives the opportunity for professionals to share their opinions and suggestions about the work they do, about their working environment, motivation, and above all provides a secure and reliable flow of information, which are mainly of a very delicate and confidential nature.

Due to the importance of public interest and the necessity to follow legal norms, judicial profession is by its nature considered to be within the field of crisis communication. For this reason, it is necessary to pay special attention to every aspect of the content of the crisis protocols, to the training of its users, and to define very clear guidelines about what to communicate, who communicates it, how often and in what way.

Being aware of the above, and in compliance with the court development strategy, the leaders and the judges have to decide to undertake the necessary step and to invest their time and resources in upgrading the system and culture of internal communication on courts. These communication basics may seem clear and unambiguous. However, in a new set and demanding organizational systems such as courts, organization encounters numerous obstacles and hurdles in every day communication: because of the sensitivity and complexity of its work, remarkable public exposure of the organization, the scope of work and the number of employees.

March 2015, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The workshop, intended for NGOs and public institutions’ communication officials that deal with various aspects of corruption, was held on 20th March 2015 in the conference hall of Hotel Europe in Sarajevo and organized in order to transfer knowledge and best practices from the region and the world to the participants of this event.

The workshop was organized within the project “Strengthening the Communication Capacity of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption of Bosnia and Herzegovina“, implemented by Center for Social Research Analitika, and funded by the British Government. The event was organized in partnership with the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption. Within four sessions, the speakers presented basic principles, concepts and approaches, as well as practical examples of the most recent anti-corruption campaigns.

In the opening session, Ksenija Renko, JUPITER Strategic Consulting, communications expert from Croatia, presented methodology and two examples of anti-corruption campaigns conducted in the Republic of Croatia. On this occasion, Mrs. Renko stressed the importance of environment analysis and research before and after the implementation of a campaign. The emphasis of her presentation was on partnerships with various sectors, particularly with the media in the format of investigative journalism. Campaign Officer of Transparency International UK Alice McCool gave an overview of anti-corruption campaigns in international perspective. She concluded with several crucial factors necessary for the success of anti-corruption campaigns: the relevance of topic, cooperation with the media and the creation of key messages differentiated by target audiences.

Head of PR Unit of the Agency for Fight against Corruption of the Republic of Serbia Lidija Kujundžić presented the components of the recently implemented anti-corruption campaign of the Agency, and particularly pointed out the procedures related to funding and implementation of campaigns, primarily those funded by the European Union in EU countries and countries in the accession process. The workshop concluded with the presentation by Jurgita Razmyte from the Public Relations Division of the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania, who directly worked on implementation of a national campaign to fight corruption.