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International online conference “Integrity in the judicial system as a guarantee of the impartiality of the court”

On September 11, 2020, was held the international online conference “Integrity in the judicial system as a guarantee of the impartiality of the court”. During the conference, guest speakers considered issues of promoting the practice of integrity in the judicial system, integrity tools (access to information about the judicial system and the activities of the court, the code of judicial ethics and conflicts of interest in the judicial system), as well as public control over the activities of the courts. The conference brought together experts from Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, the OECD (Paris) and the International anti-corruption Academy (Vienna).

Elena Tagirovna MAKSYUTA the judge of the judicial Board for civil cases of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, started the event with a speech dedicated to the work of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan to promote integrity in the judicial system. Ms. Maksyuta provided eloquent statistics on the number of judges dismissed for negative reasons. According to the speaker, 15 judges were dismissed in 2017, 6 in 2018, 29 in 2019, and 12 in the first half of 2020.

Also there were announced statistics on the work of the Judicial jury, which shows an annual increase in the number of judges brought to disciplinary responsibility.

Alexey KONOV, Director of the Anti-Corruption center of the “Higher school of economics” (Moscow, Russia), Chairman of the Board of governors of the International anti-corruption academy (Vienna, Austria) also spoke at the conference. As part of his speech on the impartiality of the court through integrity, he recalled standards, positive international experience and tools. Alexey also suggested possible effective measures to combat corruption.

Andrey KUHARUK, anti-corruption analyst of the Anti-corruption network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ACN) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (Paris, France), delivered his presentation on Kazakhstan’s progress and further recommendations under the fifth round of monitoring of the Istanbul development plan, focused on the problematic aspects related to integrity in the judicial system of Kazakhstan.

Roman KUIBIDA, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Center for political and legal reforms, member of the Public Integrity Council, PhD (Kiev, Ukraine), noted in his speech that it is very difficult to create an idea of a person’s integrity without comprehensive information. For a comprehensive analysis of the integrity of judges in Ukraine, they provide three types of declarations:

– Property (very detailed),

– Declaration of integrity (the judge confirms or denies certain facts), and

– Family ties (declares relatives working in the justice system or in high positions).

All declarations, except for personal data, are open. Information is also collected from their various registers (data on income, real estate, powers of attorney, border crossings, appeals to the police, to the court, etc.) court decisions, media information, and citizens’ appeals are also analyzed. All this information is compared and evaluated.

The speakers of the conference also were:

  • Dmitry NURUMOV, senior legal adviser of Legal Policy Research Centre (LPRC) (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Board member of Penal Reform International (London, UK).
  • Daniyar KANAFIN, a lawyer of Almaty city Bar Association, associate Professor (Almaty, Kazakhstan).
  • Ramazan NURTAYEV, chief researcher of the Institute of legislation and legal research of the Ministry of Justice of RK, associate Professor (Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan).
  • Olga SHIYAN, Executive Director of Transparency Kazakhstan, the expert of the project “Implementation of systematic, structured and effective policy of enhancing business integrity and corporate governance in Kazakhstan in accordance with the OECD standards” KazBar and LPRC (Almaty, Kazakhstan).
  • Denis PRIMAKOV, associate Professor of the Russian Academy of Foreign Trade, (Moscow, Russia)
  • Galina CHIZHIK, expert of the Public organization “Anti-Corruption Center”, member of the Public Integrity Council (Kiev, Ukraine).

At the end of the conference, Aman Shormanbayev, an expert of the International Legal Initiative, presented a database on conflicts of interest in the judicial system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which was prepared as part of the project “Ensuring the principle of impartiality through expanding access to information on the presence of conflicts of interest among judges, prosecutors, lawyers and lawyers in the judicial system of the Republic of Kazakhstan when considering cases”.

Aman noted a couple of problems that his team encountered while creating the database:

1) Lack of access to data sets in machine-readable format:

– On the website of the Supreme court, the database of court decisions is “filtered”!

– Court decisions can only be downloaded one at a time in PDF format.

2) Unavailability of tax returns of judges and other persons working in the judicial system (court clerks, bailiffs, prosecutors, private bailiffs).

Based on the results of the project, Aman also offered recommendations to state bodies:

1) Open access to the array of court decisions in machine-readable form to interested organizations;

2) Mandatory publication of tax returns of judges, prosecutors and all public servants involved in the justice system;

3) Expanding the grounds for annulment of the court’s decision due to violation of the principle of impartiality and conflict of interests of the judge while considering the case;

4) Expansion of the grounds for recusal of participants in the process due to violation of the principle of impartiality and conflict of interests in the consideration of the case.

The event was held with the assistance of the Legal Policy Research Centre in the framework of the International Legal Initiative “Ensuring the principle of impartiality through the expansion of access to information about the presence of conflict of interest among judges, prosecutors, lawyers and attorneys in the judicial system of the Republic of Kazakhstan in cases”, implemented with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan.

Follow the link to watch the recording of this conference in Russian on the LPRC YouTube channel.

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