On December 13th 2017, to mark the closure of the Support to Judicial Academy the US government provided through the United States Agency for International Development -USAID, representatives of Government of Serbia, USAID, US Embassy and Serbian judiciary presented the project’s successes and achievements at the ceremony held at the Belgrade City Assembly.
With USAID assistance, Judicial Academy developed a Strategic plan to guide institutional development, an online training database that tracks individual training and skill development of judges, prosecutors, and judicial staff and the new website that ensures greater visibility and enhanced transparency of its operations. During the project, two Judicial Academy regional offices, Novi Sad and Kragujevac, became operational and organized over 200 trainings for judiciary.
Professional training and education for Serbia’s judiciary is conducted through the Judicial Academy, which was founded to ensure professional, independent, unbiased, and efficient performance of judicial and prosecutorial staff. In order to address the challenges the Judicial Academy was facing with limited space and funding, USAID provided $500,000 over 28 months.
Director of Judicial Academy Nenad Vujic, on the occasion of the closing conference of the Judicial Academy Support Project addressed the audience by saying that the strategic approach of the Judicial Academy was that this project is not to be met with as a support project only but instead as a partnership between the Judicial Academy and the USAID, who have a common goal – the Judicial Academy capacity building. „The systematic approach has contributed to the successful implementation of this project. By establishing clear criteria for professionalism and competence, efficiency is improved and accountable, efficient, and independent judiciary is ensured. And all of it results in the full confidence of citizens in the judiciary“, concluded Director Vujic.
„Election of future judges must be based on competent and proper-quality trained staff, because it is our best protection and way towards the creation of efficient and accountable judiciary in which the citizens have confidence“, said the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Dragomir Milojević. „The Judicial Academy should proceed working on the strengthening of its own capacities and undertake measures aimed to raise the level of quality of the training programs by introducing modern learning methods“.
“Judicial reforms are not just requirements of the EU; they are the cornerstone of governance and economic reforms that are essential to Serbia’s well-being and prosperity. At the heart of these reforms are independent, accountable and professional judges and judicial staff, which depend on high-quality judicial education and training”, said the US ambassador Kyle Scott.
The Minister of Justice Nela Kuburović, on this occasion stated that, today, the existence of the Academy is not questioned, but that strategic guidelines of its future work must be worked on, also in the light of future constitutional amendments that are related to the procedure of election of judges and public prosecutors. Kuburović said that the Judicial Academy has been built on the foundations of the European legal principles with the intent that, one day, it becomes an unavoidable stage in the entry of judges and prosecutors into the judiciary, that this task is not an easy one, but that it is certainly the goal that is aspired to in the forthcoming period.
She recalled that the Judicial Academy started operating in 2010, whereby the legal and institutional framework was established for modern education of judges, prosecutors, and others employed in the judiciary. „The number of judges, deputy public prosecutors, judicial and prosecutorial associates, who have enhanced their professional knowledge at the Academy through the continuous or specialized training in only one year is close to 10,000“, stated Kuburović. She pointed to the great role the Judicial Academy has played in the training of around 1,800 judges, prosecutors, and police officers for the application of the new Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and that, in the course of 2016, it also successfully organized a comprehensive training for the application of the new Law on Enforcement and Security.
Kuburović reminded that, as of recently, the implementation of a major project has been launched related to the prevention of and combat against corruption through the IPA 2013 and that a great part of its implementation will be carried specifically by the Judicial Academy, through the organization and provision of training courses for the new Law on Organization and Jurisdiction of Government Authorities in Suppression of Organized Crime, Terrorism and Corruption, and for amendments of and supplements to the Criminal Code, the application of which will start on 1 March 2018. Kuburović pointed out that the Ministry of Justice has been continuously monitoring the operation of the Academy and providing support in the strengthening of its capacities, both those infrastructure-wise, and educational and, thus, inter alia, it provided a new building in the center of Belgrade, of the floor area of 3,500 square meters, for accommodation of this institution. She expressed her gratitude to the USAID, which financed the Judicial Academy Support Project, and which in the past ten years provided a great support both to the Ministry of Justice and to other judicial institutions for the purpose of strengthening of the rule of law.
Since 2001 USAID has invested more than $750 million to stimulate economic growth, strengthen the justice system, and promote democratic governance in Serbia.
Photo: Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Serbia