The Ministry of Justice and its partners (Judicial Council, Council of Public Prosecutors, Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors and Courts and Public Prosecution Offices) needed support to strengthen its independence, accountability, professionalism and efficiency. Working in a European consortium led by the UK’s Ministry of Justice’s National Offender Management Service, Agencia set to work to:
- Design and establish a probation service
- Implement strategic planning
- Introduce case management techniques
- Improve training, assessments and their delivery
- Organise and facilitate international study visits
- Build public confidence
- Action new legal frameworks
With several key areas to address, Agencia wasted no time in analysing the functionality and accountability of the Judicial Council, the Public Prosecution Council and their legal frameworks. By monitoring appraisals, promotions and disciplinary procedures for judges and public prosecutors, Agencia were able to formulate and target key areas for improvement.
- Strategic Planning
A new and improved system for strategic planning was introduced to the Ministry of Justice, Councils and the Supreme Court. These new systems developed more informative results and improved the methodology behind future decision making.
- Managing New Workloads
Paying closer attention to court and case management, as well as human resource management, in Macedonian courts and public prosecution offices, led to an elimination of backlogged cases. Now, more energy and time could be invested into the influx of new cases, improving the overall efficiency of the operation.
- Legal and Institutional Mechanisms
Ensuring the integrity and impartiality of council members, judges and public prosecutors was essential. The entire capacity of the system was strengthened through better detection of corruption cases and applying appropriate sanctions.
- Training and Assessment
Redeveloping and preparing a new curricula and training programmes empowering council members, judges and public prosecutors became Agencia’s next agenda. This included the introduction of support staff to assist in the implementation of the relevant frameworks, tools and rules. Other key areas of training and assessment were in the fields of policy planning and development, budget control, court management and human resource planning.
- Study Visits
An important part of Agencia’s process was to increase collaborative practices. Collective training sessions with council members, judges, prosecutors and their administrative staff were introduced. From this, staff could compare, analyse and exchange knowledge and experiences with peers, in order to improve their performances individually and collectively.
- Transparent Commincation
Instruments to increase communication, especially with the public, were applied through bylaws and communication programs. This allowed citizens an insight to the work of the councils, courts and the court decisions.
- Alternative Measures and Sanctions
Strengthening the size of the probation service, and efficiently executing legal frameworks, enabled Macedonia’s judiciary to become fully operational with qualified personnel. This gave them the ability to employ alternative measures such as house arrest. Enhanced treatment and integration of offenders through the process of re-socialisation was a great benefit to the additional community work being carried out. In turn, public awareness of such measures being introduced grew, and began to benefit whole communities.
A new found confidence within the Macedonian Judiciary and its communities was evident through the success of Agencia’s work:
- Reduced reliance on custody, following introduction of alternative sanctions
- Trust in the judiciary system increased
- Wider access and transparency for all court procedures and outcomes
- Increased efficiency in judges’ performance
- Confidence and professionalism increased through new frameworks and support systems
“Agencia are a great partner. Always positive, even in the face of a lot of red tape and issues from the EU and Macedonia.”
Dr Francesca Emmett, International Relations Manager, National Offender Management Service, Ministry of Justice