Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) organized the 17th Edition of the Summer School for Junior Anti-corruption Practitioners from South East Europe, with the National Institute for Justice as the co-hosting institution and co-financed by the Central European Initiative in Sofia, Bulgaria under the Bulgarian CEI Presidency. The 2022 Summer School edition brought together experts with a wide range of skills and many years of national and international experience in the field of judical integrity and judicial independence.
The target audience of the Summer School were 19 practitioners- junior judges and prosecutors, as well legal advisors coming from the courts, prosecution offices of nine RAI member countries. They had an opportunity to obtain sophisticated and advanced knowledge and practical skills on the ethics and conflict of interest rules, knowledge resources and training materials in the field by judges, prosecutors and lawyers and the representatives from the international organizations (UNODC- Judicial Integrity Network and the OECD). Following the training and successful completion of the evaluation test, the participants were awarded with the RAI Summer School Certificates.
The opening remarks were given by Ms. Desislava Gotskova, Head of RAI Secretariat It was emphasized that the RAI Summer Junior School is one of the oldest and shiniest examples of what RAI do. It started with a simple idea and clear-cut objectives that are still valid 17 years later”.
Ms. Silviya Dimitrova, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice of Bulgaria noted how the concept of the Summer School thoroughly developed and expanded since its inception in 2005. “Since then,” Ms. Dimitrova said, “some young anti-corruption practitioners are now renowned experts in their countries and abroad. The success comes from the opportunity to establish a platform for learning new practices and exchanging experiences.”
Mr. Stanislav Todorov, Counsellor Ministry of Foreign Affairs and CEI Bulgarian Chair Coordinator welcomed the efforts of RAI to foster anti-corruption capacities across the region and provide a platform for young practitioners to exchange experience and good practices.
On the first day key note speakers were Mr. Wojciech Postulski, Policy Officer, European Commission-DG Just/former EJTN Secretary General who talked about the role of the European Commission in judicial training and the importance of networking between the practitioners toward developing a common judicial culture and integrity. Later on, participants took part in the Tour de Table and followed by active discussion presented their country’s good practices and tools for promoting judicial integrity.
Mr. Gerhard Reissner, Judge and Honorary President of the International Association of Judges spoke about the mission of the judges especially focusing on the Opinion of the Consultative Council of European Judges on the position of the judiciary and its relation with the other powers of the state in a modern democracy.
At the second day, Mr. Hendrik Bosshammer, Project Manager, South East Europe Division at OECD and Ms. Tatjana Veress, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, UNODC, Judicial Integrity Network, presented the online training tools developed by OECD and UNODC.
Ms. Aneta Arnaudovska, Senior Anti-corruption Advisor in RAI Secretariat presented the topic on how to prepare young judges and prosecutors for practical implementation of ethics and deontology and how to promote a culture of an open debate about ethics with a lot of practical examples and ethical dilemmas.
The tutor of the team, judge Ms. Angelina Lazarova as the tutor of the team of young judges and prosecutors introduced the session on Youth talk to youth about ethical dilemmas. Mr. Georgi Kodzhanikolov, Ms. Kalina Stancheva and Mr. Radoslav Angelov, members of the National Institute of Justice of Bulgaria team and semi-finalist at the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) Themis 2022 Competition delivered a presentation on the theme they will examine at the competition. In their presentation, they touched upon the harmonized rules and tools for judicial ethics and professional conduct in the EU, as well the challenging topics such as: use of artificial intelligence, legal technologies, emotional intelligence from the aspect of respect for the judicial ethics and human rights. Judge Lazarova and Ms. Arnaudovska were leading the open discussion and working in groups on ethical dilemmas.
On the final day, National Institute of Justice was hosting the participants of the Summer School on their premises. Ms. Eli Hristova, Lawyer at Supreme Bar Council and Mr. Dimitar Hadzhyiski, Prosecutor at Supreme Cassation prosecutors’ Office talked about the perspective of the parties in the procedures/ tolls and mechanisms to develop mutual respect among the three key legal professionals.
The 17th Edition of the Summer School enabled junior practitioners to learn about the latest developments and practices in the field of judicial integrity and guide them in identifying the mechanisms for the prevention of corruption and promoting transparent and reasoned decision-making processes. This was also the opportunity to share common values and exchange new experiences and discuss new perspectives in areas of common interest.
In parallel, with the working agenda, the school serves not only as a learning platform but as a platform for sharing the knowledge, good practices and experiences among the young professionals and for enhancing their motivation and commitment to promote new innovative working methods and a new role model of individual and organizational integrity and to encourage them to make the institutions and society better for all.