Project: "Courts of Justice in Estonia - part of the power structure worth observing"
Citizens and third sector organizations have paid their attention to the activity of legislative and executive power in a developing process of Estonia, , but monitoring of judicial authority that has a significant role to play in guaranteeing national and human rights in every country has been neglected. Access to the judicial system, practical aspects of it’s functioning such as transparency and simplicity of use are primary concerns that affect the individual’s chance to protect ones rights. Objectives Primary aim of the project is to create an independent mechanism and methodology to monitor judicial system as a separate authority and to propose amendments of it through civil society. Secondary objective of the project is to conduct an initial independent analysis of corruption cases and the authorities that treat them (mainly, but not only courts) and ascertainment of the spheres that need more thorough treatment independent from governmental institutions. Aim targets and final beneficiaries Aim targets of the first field of the project are people using judicial system, civil servants who administer judicial system, judiciary officials, judges and the media. The second part is aimed to lawmakers, judges, investigators and prosecutors, but also to the media and the public. Final beneficiary is mainly the conductor of the project who develops new mechanisms, methods and networks for further activities, furthermore, it creates inter organizational base to develop independent competence centre in this field. Beneficiaries are also citizens whose opinion about functioning of the judicial system will reach decision makers and judges. Methodology Method used in the first part of the project has already been used in different countries – visiting judicial institutions and monitoring their everyday work by independent and anonymous persons and filling in the questionnaires. In some cases interviews on the previously agreed topics with the participants of judicial procedure and their representatives are included. In addition to that usability of data systems of courts such as internet, e-mail, phones and faxes is tested. Collected information is analyzed and the results and suggestions are made public at the special events organized for that purpose. The survey will be conducted twice during the project – once in the beginning and also in the final phase. Methods developed in the project are used in the future to evaluate citizen amicability of judicial system periodically and to carry out further monitoring-evaluating projects conducted by Transparency International-Estonia. Main activity in the second part of the project is mapping of adjudications made after implementation of anti corruption law. The information about corruption related crimes proceeded during the period of 1996-2008 is gathered and initial overall analysis of corruption cases, opening of procedure and general course is made by the performers who visit the court archives and get acquainted with criminal files. Mainly legal students are involved in this part, but also court staff if possible. Overall analysis is a good base for possible continuation project to investigate more thoroughly impact of legislation and legal practice on factors affecting criminal procedure of corruption cases and to make proposals of amendments for legislation. Leading the project Project is led by project manager who is counseled by project council which consists of 3-5 high level specialists. Project manager is supported by assistant who is responsible for the project management in Tallinn and in Northern and Western regions. In the first part legal students and social science students and volunteers are involved (up to 30) In the second part mainly voluntary citizens without direct relation with legal system are are involved. To summarize and analyze the results of the project, 1-2 consultants with academic background are included. When developing the methodology and analyzing the results of the second part inclusion of academic persons with as high qualification as possible is planned and master’s level law students and court personnel to gather the information and to make the initial analysis. Expected results and feedback First part of the project increases people’s awareness about functioning of judicial system and about the ways how to protect one’s rights through it. Successful implementation of the project is a good example for citizen organizations functioning as a “watchdogs” and helps to develop methods how to involve volunteers in independent monitoring and evaluation projects. As a result of the project’s second part Transparency International-Estonia will acquire relevant adequacy dealing with corruption cases on an analytical level which gives an opportunity to become an independent competence centre capable to offer solutions in this sensible field. One of the expected affects of the project is better understanding of people’s problems regarding to judicial system by courts and hopefully implementation of relevant amendments to make the judicial system more amicable to use. This should increase people’s opportunities to protect one’s rights through judicial system. Along with the sufficient and systematic overview of corruption and the problems that come up with investigating it we hope to foster even more detailed studies in the future and eventually amendments in the legislation. Successful implementation of the project is a mandatory prerequisite to develop Transparency International-Estonia into independent “watchdog” with analytical competence. Project is supported by EEA Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism and coordinated by Open Estonian Foundation.