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2nd International Summit of High Courts High Courts in Asia-Pacific Region, Transparency in the Judicial Process, 20-22 November 2013, Istanbul

BACKGROUND

1st International Summit of High Courts, November 2012
In the scope of the joint Project of the Court of Cassation and UNDP Turkey “Support to the Institutional Administration of the Presidency of the Court of Cassation in line with the International Standards”, an International Summit of the High Courts was organized on 1-3 November 2010 in order to share knowledge and experiences on functioning of high courts around the globe. The Summit hosted the participation of chief justices of 19 countries including Sweden, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, Russia, Argentina, Indonesia, Pakistan, Poland, Belarus and Egypt as well as high level representatives of the international community such as the Special Rapporteur of the UN Secretary General on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the European Commission for Efficiency of the Justice (CEPEJ), the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCEJ) and the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCEJ). The Summit was considered to be an important platform for exchange of knowledge and experience between different countries where some fundamental aspects such as the positioning of the high judiciary, including the high courts vis a vis the rest of the judicial sector and executive and legislative; transparency and accountability mechanisms for the high judiciary, the boundaries of independence and impartiality of judiciary, selection/ appointment processes, relationships with other institutions, budgeting were discussed. As a result of the Summit, guiding principles for reforms, restructuring and improvement of functioning of the judicial system was drafted to contribute to the judicial reform process of Turkey.

The results of the Summit along with the Comparative Analysis on the Functioning of High Courts, which has been realized in the scope of the Project, addressed a list of priority issues to be focused in the lifetime of the joint Project of UNDP and Court of Cassation of Turkey:
  1. Contributing to the judicial reform processes around the globe and also in Turkey through the continuation of knowledge and experience sharing platforms on the functioning of high courts
  2. Development of the required institutional administration and human resource capacity for the improvement of the effectiveness of the judicial service provided
  3. Promotion of required regulations with regards to the institutional administration of the Court of Cassation for a fast, efficient and effective functioning of the judiciary
  4. Increase the public confidence about the judicial proceedings through the promotion of twin principles of transparency and accountability

Relying on the results of the 1st International Summit of High Courts, 2nd Summit is planned to be held in November 2013 in Istanbul focusing on the transparency in judiciary.

Theme of the 2nd International Summit of High Courts
Transparency is a fundamental element of the judicial process. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognizes that while the press and public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order (ordre public) or national security in a democratic society, or when the interests of the private lives of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice, every judgment rendered in a criminal case or in a suit at law shall be made public except where the interests of juvenile persons otherwise requires or the proceedings concern matrimonial disputes or the guardianship of children.

The Conference of Presidents of European Supreme Courts meeting in Slovenia in October 1999 under the auspices of the Council of Europe formulated a statement on “The Supreme Court: Publicity, Visibility and Transparency”. That statement recognized “the necessity to satisfy the expectations of contemporary society with regard to justice”, and stressed the importance of courts “demonstrating their openness and sensitivity”. The statement noted that judgments, “based on clear and easily understandable reasoning”, should be accessible to the general public; that there should be transparency in the nomination of judges; that the Supreme Court should “participate in the democratic debate in society with the aim of making better known the issues of justice in a state governed by the rule of law”; and underscored the relationship between justice and the media as an important element in the educational role of the Supreme Court in a democracy.

OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY

The overall objective of the Summit is to share knowledge and experiences among the high courts in Asia Pacific Region. The specific objectives of the 2nd International Summit of High Courts are to:
  1. Contribute to the judicial reform process in Turkey through the provision of international experience and knowledge;
  2. Create a platform for mutual exchange of experience and knowledge between different countries where best practices and lessons learned in securing transparency in the judicial process will be discussed and the essential elements of the multi-faceted concept of judicial transparency will be identified;
  3. Recommend guiding principles for reforms on transparency in the judicial process
Expected Participant Profile of the Summit:
  1. The Presidents of the High Courts in 32 countries in Asia-Pacific Region including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Armenia, Iran, Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand
  2. Representatives of relevant legal and judicial organizations, such as Law Association for Asia and Pacific (LAWASIA), the International Commission of Jurists, and the Judicial Integrity Group, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
  3. The Presidents of the high courts in Turkey
  4. The Head of Departments of the Court of Cassation in Turkey
FORMAT

The International Summit will be in the form of a round table meeting. The sessions where Presidents of High Courts will discuss the following issues with regards to judicial transparency are listed as follows:

  • The concept of a “public hearing”
    1. - the “open court”.
      - information about time and venue of court sittings.
      - reasonable facilities for attendance of public.
  • Facilitating access to the judicial system
    1. - standard, user-friendly forms and instructions.
      - clear and accurate instructions on fees, procedures and hearing schedules.
      - dissemination of awareness raising materials, eg. court user guides and radio and television programmes.
  • Facilitating access to court premises
    1. - easily readable signs and orientation guides.
      - public information services and resource centres.
      - safe, clean, convenient and user-friendly court premises, with comfortable waiting areas, adequate public space, and amenities for special-need users including children and the disabled.
  • Transparency in the delivery of justice
    1. - public delivery of judgments.
      - reasoned judgments.
      - access to information on judicial proceedings, both pending and concluded, including judgments, pleadings, motions and evidence.
      - regular publication of judgments of superior and appellate courts.
  • Monitoring public satisfaction with the delivery of justice
    1. - court-users’ charter.
      - court-user committees.
      - judicial outreach programmes, eg. town hall meetings.
      - surveys of court users and other stakeholders.
      - addressing court-user complaints.
      - publication of annual reports.
  • Relations with the media
    1. - Structuring of the public relations unit within the judiciary
  • Transparent response to complaints of unethical conduct in the judiciary
    1. - dissemination of codes of conduct.
      - credible mechanism to receive, inquire into, and determine complaints of unethical conduct

    Each of the aspects noted above will be discussed in separate sessions. Each discussion will commence with a presentation of “best practic

    Logistical Information:

    Date and Venue:
    The 2nd International Summit of High Courts will be held in Ciragan Kempinski Hotel Istanbul on 20-22 November 2013.

    Interpretation Service:
    The Summit will offer interpretation for three languages including Russian, English and Turkish.