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About Open Court Project
Please find our official links that open PDF files that might be of interest to you.
Link 1. About Open Court Project (OCP)
Link 2. Virtual Reality in Courts
Link 3. Virtual Court: Innovations in Legal Education
Link 4. Virtual Court: How It Works
- monitoring (video recording) of over 3,000 court trials (criminal, economic, civil, administrative, and constitutional court procedure);
- monitoring of over 50 high-profile court cases concerning politicians, highest officials, large corporations, and public figures;
- monitoring of over 400 courts in all Ukrainian regions;
- monitoring of over 500 judges – parties to trials;
- monitoring of over 200 prosecutors – parties to trials;
- monitoring of over 400 lawyers and legal professionals – parties to trials.
2. Social awareness of the project
direct awareness of citizens of the project: over 1,500,000 citizens (social media, PR campaign);
mediate awareness of citizens of the project: over 5,000,000 citizens (social media, PR campaign, opinion leaders, mass media);
awareness of legislative, executive, and judicial authorities of the project: Presidential Administration of Ukraine, the People’s Deputies of Ukraine, Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Supreme Court of Ukraine and other courts, the Supreme Council of Justice, High Qualification Commission of Judges, and local government bodies;
awareness of professional associations of the project (National Association of Advocates of Ukraine, Ukrainian Bar Association, and Ukrainian Advocates' Association etc.) and individual specialists of the project, its goals, tasks, tools, and results totaling not less than 8,000 judges, 100,000 lawyers;
direct awareness of scientific community of the project – not less than 5,000 people;
direct awareness of students and young professionals of the project – not less than 10,000 people;
mediate awareness of students and young professionals of the project – not less than 200,000 people (promotional campaigns);
awareness of international organizations (and international institutions) on implementation in Ukraine of the Open Court project as one-of-a-kind project being implemented in the only one country in the world.
3. Project’s positive awareness campaign
over 100 newsbreaks in leading media sources and authorities official websites;
over 10,000 publications in national and regional media sources and authorities official web-sites;
23 lectures in leading law universities;
18 trainings for lawyers and legal professionals in 17 Ukrainian regions;
over 70 project’s partner courts including supreme courts (particularly, the Supreme Court of Ukraine, High Specialized Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases);
over 17, 000 active followers of the project on Facebook;
partnership with the most influential media outlets, NGOs of national level, law firms and opinion leaders;
over 200,000 unique views of video materials of project’s web-site.
4. List of universities in which the Open Court project has been implemented
|21st of October, 2015, Kyiv, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv|
|22nd of October, 2015, Kyiv, Institute of Law and Psychology of the National Academy of Internal Affairs|
|26th of October, 2015, Lviv, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv|
|27th of October, 2015, Uzhgorod, Uzhgorod National University|
|28th of October, 2015, National University Lviv Polytechnic (Lviv)|
|28th of October, 2015, Kyiv, National University of «Kyiv-Mohyla Academy»|
|30th of October, 2015, Kyiv, National Pedagogical Dragomanov University|
|2nd of November, 2015, Odesa, Odessa I.I.Mechnikov National University|
|2nd of November, 2015, Odesa, National University «Odessa academy of law»|
|4th of November, 2015, Dnipropetrovsk (University of Customs and Finance, Dnipropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs (DSUIA), Dnipropetrovsk University of Humanities, Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University (DNU), Dnipropetrovsk Alfred Nobel University, National Mining University (NMU)|
|5th of November, 2015, Kharkiv, Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University|
|6th of November, 2015, Kharkiv, Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs|
|6th of November, 2015, Kharkiv, V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University|
|9th of November, 2015, Irpin, Tax Academy National University|
|10th of November, 2015, Kyiv, European University|
|11th of November, 2015, Ivano-Frankivsk, Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University|
|11th of November, 2015, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ivano-Frankivsk University of Law named after King Danylo Galytskyi|
|12th of November, 2015, Lutsk, Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University|
|13th of November, 2015, Vinnytsia, Donetsk National University|
5. Presentation of the Open Court project for lawyers and legal professionals (as part of trainings of the EU Project "Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine", National Association of Advocates of Ukraine, Ukrainian Bar Association, and Ukrainian Advocates' Association):
|26th of September, 2015 (Vinnytsia)|
|29th of September, 2015 (Chernivtsi)|
|1st of October, 2015 (Ivano-Frankivsk)|
|3rd of October, 2015 (Lviv)|
|5th of October, 2015 (Uzhgorod)|
|6th of October, 2015 (Mukachevo)|
|12th of October, 2015 (Khmelnytskyi)|
|14th of October, 2015 (Ternopil)|
|16th of October, 2015 (Rivne)|
|19th of October, 2015 (Cherkasy)|
|21st of October, 2015 (Zaporizhzhia)|
|22nd of October, 2015 (Dnipropetrovsk)|
|24th of October, 2015 (Odesa)|
|26th of October, 2015 (Mykolaiiv)|
|3rd of November, 2015 (Zhytomyr)|
|5th of November, 2015 (Kharkiv)|
|25th of November, 2015 (Kyiv)|
|26th of November, 2015 (Kyiv)|
6. Partnership agreements signing ceremonies under the Open Court project with national courts’ executives:
|The Supreme Court of Ukraine|
|High Specialized Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases|
|Administrative Court of Appeal of Kharkiv region|
|Kharkiv Administrative Court of Appeal|
|Zhytomyr Administrative Court of Appeal|
|Appeal Court of Zakarpattia region|
|Appeal Court of Ivano-Frankivsk region|
|Appeal Court of Mykolaiiv region|
|Appeal Court of Kharkiv region|
|Vinnytsia Administrative Court of Appeal|
|Appeal Court of Khmelnytskyi region|
|Appeal Court of Chernihiv region|
|Kyiv Commercial Court of Appeal|
|Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal|
|Commercial Court of Kharkiv region|
|Dnipro District Court of Kherson city|
|Zhmerynka City and District Court of Vinnytsia region|
|Ivano-Frankivsk City Court of Ivano-Frankivsk region|
|Ivano-Frankivsk District Administrative Court|
|Kovpakivskyi District Court of Sumy city|
|Ovidiopol District Court of Odesa region|
|Odesa District Administrative Court|
|District Administrative Court of Kyiv city|
|Podil District court in Kyiv|
|Putivl District Court of Sumy region|
|Sumy District Administrative Court|
|Ternopil City and District Court of Ternopil region|
|Uzhgorod City and District Court of Zakarpattya region|
|Shargorod District Court of Vinnytsia region|
|Zguriv District Court of Kyiv region|
|Komsomolsk District Court of Kherson|
|Kyiv District Administrative Court|
7. Partner events for presentation and promotion of the Open Court project
Ukrainian Themis. I Lustration seminar
|Host: Ukrainian Legal Foundation NNGO, Reanimation Package of Reforms NNGO. The Open Court project – presentation.||21st of September, 2015, Kyiv|
|Black Sea Economic Forum “Reforms to Fight Corruption”||Host: British Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce, Australia-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce. Belgian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce, Benelux Business Club, European Business Association, EU – Ukraine Business Council, German Delegation of Business in Ukraine, Swedish-Ukrainian Business Club, International Turkish-Ukrainian Businessmen Association, US – Ukraine Business Council, Odesa regional public administration, Black Sea Development Foundation. The Open Court project – presentation.||8th – 10th of October, 2015, Odesa|
|Ukrainian Themis. I Lustration seminar||Host: Ukrainian Legal Foundation NNGO, Reanimation Package of Reforms NNGO. The Open Court project – presentation.||16th of October, 2015, Kyiv|
|Round table “Ukrainian Courts: Reset through the Constitutional Amendments”||Host: Centre for Political and Legal Reforms NGO, Reanimation Package of Reforms NGO. The Open Court project – presentation.||21st of July, 2015, Kyiv|
|All-Ukrainian Week of Law||Host: Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Coordination Council of Young Lawyers. The Open Court project – presentation.||11th of December, 2015, Kyiv|
|Round table “Criminal Justice Reforms: investigators, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges opinions”||EU Project "Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine". The Open Court project – special guest of the event.||21st of December, 2015, Kyiv|
8. End-of-the-year events for 2015
Within the period from the 12th of October through the 7th of December, 2015, the organization has successfully carried out the most broad-scale over the course of Ukrainian history monitoring of operation of courts which involved video recording of legal trials in civil, criminal, administrative, and economic cases, public consultation and assessment of behavior of judges against standards of justice.
The monitoring took place throughout the entire territory of Ukraine (24 regions), was followed by millions of citizens of Ukraine and has been carried out titled Open Court Reporter. Monitoring included involvement of the most active civil society members to video recording of court cases and their public disclosure for the purposes of transparency of the activities of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers.
On the 14th of December, 2015, at the initiative of the Open Court project in partnership with the Supreme Court of Ukraine and with the support of WNISEF and EU Project "Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine" International Justice Forum has been held for the first time in Ukraine. Its underlying idea of video recording of court sessions received an all out development under the aegis of the Open Court project. During the event the participants of Open Court Reporter contest were awarded with over 200 special guests involved. The event attendees were representatives of EU and USAID projects, public authorities, the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, and Georgia, representatives of the embassies of Canada and Netherlands, heads of foreign business chambers, and Business Ombudsman of Ukraine. Also, chairmen of supreme, local courts, and courts of appeal, law firms, as well as recognized experts in the area of law and management of higher education institutions participated in forum. They supported the Open Court project activities and stressed remarkable significance of the results of the contest. During the event the most high-profile examples of negative and positive justice in Ukraine in the form of video materials from the court rooms have been demonstrated to highlight critical behavior of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers satisfying or not satisfying occupational standards. 13 participants of Open Court Reporter national contest were awarded in Grand Prix nomination, and the topics of speeches of event’s special guests were arranged in relation to this contest and the Open Court project in general.
On the 23rd of December, 2015 a concluding press conference titled “Judicial reform in action: results of Open Court Reporter national contest” took place in Ukraine Сrisis Media Center. The speakers of the event were Stanislav Batryn, Chief of the Open Court Project, Iryna Ozymok, Local Economic Development Program Manager, Western NIS Enterprise Fund, Oksana Tsymbrivska, Expert at EU Project "Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine", Leonid Lazebnyy, lawyer, chief editor of the "Lawyer" magazine, and Stanislav Kravchenko, Deputy Chairman of the HSCU.
9. Development of current special projects within the Open Court initiative being carried out on the constant basis throughout a year
High-Profile Case project (the project focuses on 20 high-profile court cases being crucially important for the whole society as they reflect the condition of Ukrainian judiciary system (Murder of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes case, Crackdown on Dissent by Yanukovich Regime case, Popov against Activists case etc.). These cases are represented in the form of analysis reports with photo and video content, and conclusions by the experts);
Court Raid project (the project involves random inspection visit of any court selected by the project’s team on the grounds of objective standards. On completion of raid a map of violations in the court is produced being based on direct outreach. The raid lasts for 1 business day. On completion of it the report is prepared: documental data and infographics);
Court Scandal project (the project involves systematic database fill-up with information on judges who implicated themselves in high-profile corruption scandals which is highlighted in media sources);
Court Register project (the project involves acquisition of objective data consolidated into statistic reports, diagrams, and tables on violation by the judges of requirements of laws before the publication of court decisions in the Unified State Register of Court Decisions);
Unjust Decision project (the project involves detection from open sources, as well as through cooperation with law unions, individual lawyers, and citizens of court decisions bearing the marks of knowingly unjust decision, preparation of crime incident report, informing the society on the results of monitoring of criminal trial against the judge under Article 375 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine);
Court. Control project (the project involves supervision of the process of bringing the judges to responsibility by the authorized bodies both at the addresses of organization’s activists or any other persons).
- International Award
- Century International Quality ERA CQE under the guidance of Business Initiative Directions
Gold Category. Voting results included polling of businessmen, journalists, legal professionals, and scientists from all over the world.
Before, this Award was given to giant companies of world Top 500 rating: ArcelorMittal (world’s largest metallurgical group controlling 10% of world steel market), Sheraton Harare Hotel & Towers, WalMart (5th line with capitalization of $246.4 bln.), Kaspersky, Hong Yuen Electronics Ltd. (Hong Kong), company owned by China Aerospace International Holdings Limited (CASIL), Guangdong Foodstuffs Import & Export (Group) Corp, – producer and distributor of Coca-Cola products in China, Azerbaijan State Oil Company Socar, British-American Tobacco and Navoi, mining and metallurgical plant (gold deposits). Also, before the award was given to Princess Shahnaz Husain from India (CEO of Shahnaz Herbals, trademark priced at over $100 mln), Ali H. Odeh, CEO of Eastern Branch of Turner Construction International LLC which ran construction of the biggest building in the world (810 meters with Giorgio Armani hotel), Sergii Dubinin, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of RAO of Russia (60% of Russian electricity), P. C. Rao, CEO of Indian Oil Corporation (19th position in the world), and generally to leaders from 166 countries since 1964.
- Recognition in Ukraine
- Pro Bono Awards 2015
Open Court Project has been named among TOP 5 national projects changing Ukraine and won Pro Bono Awards 2015 as "Viewer's Choice Award".
Among other participants: Microsoft, Samsung. Shell, Arzinger Company, CMS Cameron McKenna LLC (CMS), PepsiCo in Ukraine, Coca-Cola Beverages Ukraine, P&G, Platinum Bank, Unilever, Watsons, Kyivstar, Vodafone Ukraine, PJSC Concern Galnaftogaz, 1+1, JTI, BAT Ukraine, PLASKE, British American Tobacco Ukraine, PJSC Prykarpattyaoblenergo, CRH Ukraine, Asters, Vasil Kisil and Partners, DTEK, SE NNEGC Energoatom, ESTA Holding Company, Metinvest, Astra Zeneca, Marchenko Danevych, Monsanto Company, Nova Poshta Company, New Products Group of Companies, Syngenta, System Capital Management (SCM), UkrSibbank, Foxtrot Home Appliances ТМ.
The competition committee included the experts of the center of CSR Development, “Legal Newspaper”, and international experts as follows: Elaine Cohen, Beyond Business company (Israel); Marina Stefanova, CSR expert, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network (Bulgaria); Ales Kranjc Kuslan, Ekvilib Institute (Slovenia); Christiana Palyatsia, CSR Company (Cyprus), Thomas Serkovich, Director of International Affairs Foretica (Spain); Marianne Bohle, Executive Director of CSR Sweden (Sweden); Agnes Alksne, Executive Director of CSR Latvia (Latvia); Serdar Dinler, President of CSR Turkey (Turkey).
- Personal Awards
Founder and CEO was named the best young lawyer and public figure of Ukraine in 2015 - 2016 (Ministry of Justice); awarded by legal professionals among TOP 5 leaders of the legal profession in Ukraine, along with Deputy Attorney General of Ukraine, Deputy Head of Parliament, Deputy Head of Minister of Internal Affairs. The Chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine issued an official order No 1112 dated 14.12.2015 «On the expression of gratitude to the Head of Open Court Project for the support of the establishment of standards of justice in Ukraine». Director of V. M. Koretsky Institute of State and Law of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has delegated Stanislav Batryn as a member of a working group of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine created with the objective of modernization of legal regulation of the business environment in Ukraine.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The organization has been set up in 2015 with the objective of ensuring openness, publicity, accountability of government authorities.
Particularly, NGO focuses its activities on promotion of accountability and transparency of the judiciary, strengthening the rule of law, involvement of the community and legal professionals in the process of reforming the judiciary in Ukraine.
Starting from 2015 NGO has launched unique and unprecedented for the world countries initiative called Open Court Project (OCP), whose hallmark is video recording of court trials, uploading videos to webpage open-court.org and Youtube to be watched by millions of people. Project focuses on promotion of high standards of justice and fostering respect for the judiciary using instruments of transparency and implementing the concept of crucial role of outstanding business reputation of a judge, prosecutor, and advocate.
The short - term goal of OCP is creation of an effective system of safeguards against corruption and injustice in courts, which strengthens legislative guaranties on fair and impartial trial. Online video archive of court trials and video dossier of legal professionals activities (judge, prosecutor, advocate) shall be at the core of this system.
The long - term goal of OCP is establishment of credible judiciary system in Ukraine.
In achieving this ultimate goal, OCP focuses on the following objectives:
Objective 1. Accountability and transparency of the judiciary to citizens are increased.
Objective 2. Corruption risks in the judiciary are minimized.
Objective 3. High standards of justice are well - established and observed by judges, prosecutors, advocates and parties to a case.
Objective 4. Maintaining the integrity and outstanding business reputation has become the primordial and essential issue for legal professionals and community.
Objective 5. Leadership capacity of members of legal profession is strengthened.
Objective 6. The application of the principle of supremacy of the law by courts has become systematic and systemic.
Objective 7: The use of precedent and legal doctrine in judgements are enhanced.
Objective 8: The independence of the judiciary is strengthened and supported by society.
DESCRIPTION OF A PROBLEM
Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe with the population over 45 million people and an incredibly valuable resource with remarkable creative potential and a capacity. Nevertheless, lack of justice, coupled with the lack of a properly independent judiciary is seen by many as the biggest problem facing ordinary people. Ukraine's court system is widely regarded as corrupt, dependent, favorable to the rich and powerful.
Most importantly, injustice in courts breaks expectations of people after the Revolution of Dignity and causes loss of faith in successful struggle for civil rights at crucial moment of armed aggression of Russian Federation and standing up for European values.
For the moment, however, the main threat lies not in conflict, but in the subsequent loss of faith in national governmental institutions, especially judiciary. Corruption in courts leads to benefits for particular individuals and small groups, results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity and injustice.
The magnitude of the challenges of strengthening the rule of law requires adoption of new legislation aiming at the goals of open trials, law-binding procedures and fair judgments.
Consequently, starting from 2014 various legislative initiatives have been under way to ensure fair trial and objective judgments in courts. Legislation has been amended on a number of occasions to bring it into line with international standards. Nevertheless, changes in legislation has not led to a sustained improvement in practice. It is evident that legislation alone is not sufficient to effectively contribute to the establishment supremacy of law in Ukraine. It would be a fatal mistake to consider that legislation will have the crucial impact on ensuring fair rules in society. The main problem is that laws are not enforced.
In the current conditions of the judicial reform process, a fundamental necessity, along with legislation amendments, is an establishment of creditable and transparent court system based on confidence in courts.
Ukraine is in a process of judicial reform but reforming the judiciary should not be equated solely with the amendments to legislation. In our understanding, the whole point of the judicial reform is to establish credible and transparent court system based on support of society. In this context, it is important to realize that qualitative changes to the legislation (influence «from outside») does not necessarily mean changes in society. It is crucial that society understands the value of rule of law and obeys the rules given by parliament and judiciary.
In order to provoke changes, OCP concentrates it’s efforts on implementation of instruments affecting judiciary from inside. What these instruments have in common is that they are based on the principle of transparency of the judiciary.
Instrument 1. The impact and use of video recording of court trials
Our experience reveals that video recording of court trials decreases the level of corruption in courts, strengthens independence of the judiciary, eliminates unlawful interventions, commands or influence, direct or indirect pressure on judges. As a method of direct use, video recording of court trials has been working effectively and ensures compliance with the established procedures in a courtroom according to legislation. It is also clear that video camera in a courtroom ensures the principle of equity and competitiveness of a trial, and provides the parties to a case with effective instrument to enforce the procedural law by judge, prosecutor and advocates, thus taking advantage of publicity of a court trial. For the above reasons, video recording strengthen guaranties of fair judgements in criminal, civil, commercial, administrative cases based on objective trial.
Instrument 2. The impact and use of video sharing
Uploading of videos of court trials to Internet and releasing it to public creates the system of standards of justice, based on a concept of comparison of «good» and «bad» examples of carrying out professional duties, leads to independent assessment of behavior, ethics, and even level of professional capability of a judge, prosecutor and advocate. As a result, misbehavior and ignorance of the law leads to loss of clients and privileges of advocate. From the other side, judges and prosecutors may risk disciplinary action being taken against him/her in line with the public demand, including risk being fired. There is no doubt that releasing video to public does not breaks existing rules but initiates broad discussion among legal professionals and society on ensuring high standards of justice and the ways to increase the reputation of judiciary in the eyes of community. Most importantly, monitoring of court trials by society decreases reduces risks of unlawful final decisions in regular and high profile cases. Worthy of note is that involvement of civil society in dealing with the problem of corruption in courts and establishment the rule of law in a way of monitoring of court trials.
Instrument 3. The impact and use of video archive of court trials.
Court trials are being recorded from the first to the last minute of court hearing, then archived, stored, systematized and structured on the basis of type of a trial, subject matter of a case, region of court, name of court. Subsequently, video archive of court trials in criminal, civil, commercial, administrative cases has been established. Such an archive is in fact a database on court proceedings and professional records of every judge, prosecutor and lawyer in a country. Video archive can also be used for unification of judicial practice and doctrine, establishment of the rule of law, in which all laws are applied evenly, promoting high standards of justice, in the search of new leaders of professional opinion, and especially, legal education.
Implementation of Open Court Project has gone through a 3 year period of approbation in all regions of Ukraine and has included video recording of more than 5000 court trials, 90 events (conferences, roundtables, training, seminars, surveys). In 2015, it was an issue of first importance to work out our common vision, local rules and strategy of implementation of a project. Taking into account a strong necessity of establishment the supremacy of law in Ukraine and the independence of the judiciary and precedence of such a goals over minor objectives, Open Court Project rejected proposals that have emanated from different social groups provided for the promotion of right of public to publicly evaluate court case and its outcomes instead of a judge and share results with the society. We are thus convinced that only legal professionals should be given competence to evaluate the compatibility of judicial decisions with law. By that logic, everyone has a right to appeal the court decision to the judicial authorities of higher level. At the same time, society has no right and should not replace judiciary, because such an action discredits a system of justice and creates uncontrolled conditions of undue influence towards courts.
It should be noted, furthermore, that Project developed a system of rules and instructions on how volunteers and representatives should act in a courtroom. Before our activists start video monitoring of court trials OCP requires that they are well instructed and went through internal assessment. In the process of project implementation follow-up testing of their knowledge is conducting on ongoing basis. Also OCP has developed scientific-practical rules and regulations intended to explain the use and proper application of constitutional principle of publicity of court trials by national courts, prosecutors, advocates, parties to a case, non - governmental organizations and media, followed by practical trainings in most of regions of Ukraine and broad PR company.
After the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has adopted new legislation in the area of justice. Provisions of Law of Ukraine “On Ensuring a Right to a Fair Trial” (2015) provides everyone with a right to make video recording of any court trial without getting permission or approval of court. It was also discussed in society and concluded by legal professionals that uploading of videos to Youtube and Website, as well as posting videos to Social Networks (Facebook, etc.) does not infringe on the rights and interests of parties to a case because of principle of publicity of court hearings, which takes precedence over the right to privacy. The sole exception are circumstances under which trials may be held in closed hearings. For example, the court may, by reasoned decision, hold a closed hearing for the purpose of preserving the confidentiality of adoption or in order to protect public morals. Nevertheless, closed session can be held in exceptional circumstances and strictly in accordance with the law. Where the judge decides to hold a closed hearing, it is required that reasoned and substantiated judgement has to be issued in written form.
Video records of court sessions are stored, processed, posted, and categorized on the project web site оpen-court.org, on the YouTube channel Open Court, on page Open Court Reporter on Facebook. Also, they are shared via social media to be watched by millions of citizens.
This legal norm is one-of-a-kind for the countries worldwide and is considered by the project’s partners from the EU and the USA as a key aspect of the fight against corruption and injustice in courts. Success achieved by Ukraine might become an example to apply this legal rule in other countries worldwide.
The specific character of the Open Court project is live and public monitoring of legal trials, which involves video recording of court sessions in civil, criminal, administrative, and economic cases. Video records of court session are posted on the project’s web site, on the YouTube channel Open Court, as well as shared via social media to be watched by millions of citizens.
The first level of the project unifies legal professionals and volunteers from all over Ukraine, who make video records of court sessions and ensure transparency of adoption of legal judgements and compliance with laws by all the parties to a case, discipline the parties, the lawyers, the prosecutors, and the judges. The records are collected into a video recording archive broken down into categories and subcategories and freely watched on the internet.
The second level of the project unifies law experts, prominent legal professionals and legal scholars, who give the legal treatment to the court cases and professional or ethic level of judge, prosecutor, and lawyer.
The implementation of the initiative has become possible only since the March, 28th, 2015, after the new Law of Ukraine On ensuring the right to a fair trial came into effect. The law guarantees the possibility to make photoshoot, video and audio recording in the court room using portable video and audio equipment without special leave of court.
This legal norm is one-of-a-kind for the countries worldwide and is considered by the project’s partners from the EU and the USA as a key aspect of the fight against corruption and injustice in courts. Success achieved by Ukraine might become an example to apply this legal rule in other countries worldwide.
The project provides for creating case file of professional activity of thousands of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers to reveal unprofessional performance, knowingly illegal actions and corruption in courts to the detriment of the state, the citizens, and the business. On the other hand, the project involves support and showing high professional level of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, establishing and ensuring compliance with high standards of justice in Ukraine. An important target of the project is raising a generation of young lawyers having high beliefs on professional standards, court practice unification and providing equal application of legislation by the courts.
Project principles are:
- Political apathy;
- Professional structure of the project – 90% of the team are legal professionals;
- Refusal to take a side of court, public prosecution or lawyers;
- Video recording of legal trial is free of charge and is supported exclusively and transparently by independent entities