The two-day conference “Effective Delivery of Justice as a Means to Increase Public Trust and Confidence in the Judiciary” organized by the USAID New Justice Program jointly with the High Council of Justice and State Judicial Administration of Ukraine has begun.
The conference is aimed at exploring the key elements that constitute public perception of the judiciary and discussing how they impact the level of public trust and confidence in the judiciary; emphasizing the importance of demonstrated commitment and progress on judicial reforms; as well as developing recommendations and next steps for implementing judicial reforms, improving judicial conduct, and advancing the use of modern communications strategies and tools in promoting greater public trust and confidence in the judiciary.
In his welcome address, Director of the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID Mission to Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova Thomas White stressed that public trust and confidence in the judiciary is absolutely critical to maintaining judicial independence, which is the cornerstone of any democracy. It is therefore hard to imagine a topic more important for judges to consider.
“Ukraine’s historic judicial reform is today being judged, it’s being judged in court of public opinion. This is why it is important that judges not only make decisions that are fair, just and conform with the law but also that they are seen to be doing so. Both on and off the bench the judges must adhere to and be seen to be adhering to the highest ethical and legal standards”, Mr. White underscored.
According to Chairman of the High Council of Justice Ihor Benedysiuk, restoring the trust in the judiciary is a major task of the judicial reform. To this end, the Constitution and laws of Ukraine were amended based on international standards. Last year, the High Council of Justice and other judicial authorities did a lot to introduce mechanisms which would make deterioration of such standards impossible.
“We took certain steps to ensure the transparency of HCJ activities and a process of developing communications among judicial governance institutions. Specifically, we set up the Justice Communication Committee consisting of the leadership of all judicial authorities, International Advisory Board, and Advisory Board of Chief Judges under umbrella of the High Council of Justice. This is because we see a need to develop communications not only with the society but also within the judiciary”, pointed out Mr. Benedysiuk.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Valentyna Danishevska made a keynote presentation titled “Public Trust and Perception of the Judiciary”.
“Not only courts and judges need to be trusted; the entire society needs to trust in courts. If people do not trust in courts they feel uncertain. Existence of a trusted court is a sign of a democratic rule-of-law state”, emphasized Ms. Danishevska.
She mentioned also that the Supreme Court had identified four areas where the trust in the judiciary would be developed: quality of court decisions, judges’ behavior, administrative component of court proceedings, and communications with the society.
On the first day of the conference, participants learned experience of U.S. and British experts and discussed what impacts the level of public trust in the judiciary and the role of courts and the media interaction in forming public perception of the judiciary and how it affects public trust. Besides, they learned what challenges need to be overcome in order to produce popular TV programs about courts and how to use opportunities provided by the social media for making the judiciary open and transparent.
Participants to the event include representatives of Ukrainian judicial institutions and courts, civil society, law schools, think tanks, professional legal associations, media, as well as architects, screenwriters, communication experts and international donor organizations active in rule of law reform and a development of the independent media in Ukraine.
Online streaming record is available on the YouTube channel of the USAID New Justice Program.
Media partners – LIGA:ZAKON and PRAVO.TV.