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  JUDICIAL SYSTEMS
Evaluation scheme

Government of the Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Justice

ACTION PLAN
OF THE JUDICIAL REFORM STRATEGY

2008 REVISION

Zagreb, June 2008

CONTENTS:

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 3
I INTRODUCTION 5
1. Achievements to date and a brief presentation of measures planned in the revised Action Plan 8
II INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY 21
III IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY 36
IV PROFESSIONALISM AND EXPERTISE IN THE JUDICIARY 43
V EFFICIENCY OF THE JUDICIARY 50
VI FREE LEGAL AID 99
VII THE PRISON SYSTEM 105
VIII WAR CRIMES PROCEEDINGS 109

I INTRODUCTION

During the time of post-socialist political and economic transition, the Croatian judicial system faced serious difficulties which had an impact on its efficiency, and indirectly on the independence, impartiality and professionalism of the judiciary. It became obvious that weaknesses in the judiciary also had an influence on the overall development of Croatian society, and in particular on its further economic development. Furthermore, there was growing dissatisfaction on the part of Croatian citizens with the slowness in protecting their rights, and there were growing demands for efficient legal protection. It became clear that it was necessary to make substantial reforms to the judiciary and thus systematically resolve problems which prevented the judiciary from functioning efficiently.

With a view to defining a strategic approach to the judicial reform, in September 2005 the Croatian Government adopted the Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System and its Action Plan. Finally, in January 2006, the Croatian Parliament passed the Strategy and its Action Plan.

The Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System set out priority areas for action and defined specific measures to be implemented over short-term (0-1 year), mid-term (1-3 years) and long-term (more than 3 years) periods. The main goals of the judicial reform are to strengthen the rule of law and the independence and impartiality of the Croatian justice system and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the judiciary. Some of the basic preconditions for this are to reduce the backlog of unresolved cases, to improve court management, to strengthen professionalism through quality training, and to create an objective and transparent system of career management in the judiciary. Other priority areas would also be to ensure proper and full enforcement of court decisions, to improve the availability of free legal aid, to promote alternative dispute resolution, to improve the prison system, and to improve the IT infrastructure in the judiciary.

Two years into the implementation of the Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System and its Action Plan, it is evident that there is a need to have it revised. The Action Plan was envisaged as a “living document”, and the revision is an opportunity to conduct a thorough analysis of the achievements in the implementation of the Strategy to date, and an opportunity to address ways of accelerating and improving its implementation. It became evident that it was necessary to make an analysis of the measures undertaken and the results achieved and to determine what had to be changed to improve the implementation of the judicial reform and to achieve even better results. In the implementation of the Action Plan, apart from assessing the results achieved, it also became obvious that certain measures had to be defined in more detail and more clearly, and that it was necessary to add new measures to the Action Plan. On the other hand, during the implementation of the Strategy and the Action Plan, certain weaknesses had become apparent, and it was therefore necessary to redefine the measures to remedy the shortcomings and to ensure more effective implementation.

The Croatian Government began to revise the Action Plan with a view to making the measures as specific as possible, based on the experience gained, with clearly defined goals, time limits, responsible institutions, and funds necessary to implement the reform. Furthermore, the revised Action Plan should contribute to the further acceleration of the judicial reform, so that the main problems encumbering the judicial system might be resolved as soon as possible. In the revision of the Action Plan, Croatia largely took into consideration the recommendations included in the Screening Report for Chapter 23 - Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, the recommendations contained in the annual Commission Progress Reports on Croatia and Accession Partnership, and the recommendations voiced by a number of EU experts. As the reform is aimed at encouraging long-term institutional changes, it is particularly important to ensure the sustainability of the results planned. To ensure successful implementation of the judicial reform, it is necessary to ensure that all stakeholders in the judicial system co-operate and provide each other with support. For that reason, the revision of the Action Plan was planned to include the widest possible circle of representatives from the judiciary. Thus, the revised Action Plan was made in co-operation and in consultation with key officials from the Croatian justice system.

Croatia is now in the decisive phase of its accession negotiations for membership of the European Union. Although the issue of the judiciary reform, i.e. the functioning of the judiciary in line with the best European practices, is also important for the efficient implementation of the acquis in other negotiation chapters, comprehensive judicial reform will be addressed under Chapter 23 - Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. The revision of the Action Plan is set as a benchmark for opening negotiations on Chapter 23. Croatia is aware that an independent, impartial and efficient judiciary is an important precondition for the rule of law and legal security of its citizens, as well as for the development of judicial co-operation with other Member States in criminal and civil matters. One of the key preconditions for judicial co-operation among EU Member States is mutual confidence and trust in the respective judicial systems. This trust arises from respect of the standards set in terms of independence, impartiality, professionalism and efficiency of any one judicial system within the European Union. That is why Croatia will take all actions necessary to prevent the judiciary from being an obstacle to the protection and realisation of the rights of its own citizens, as well as citizens of the European Union. The Croatian Government is determined to invest further efforts to fulfil the conditions required to make the courts and the judicial system independent, impartial and efficient in the full sense of the words as soon as possible.

During the revision of the Action Plan, its structure was also changed. The revised Action Plan consists of several chapters which are separate thematic units. The introductory part briefly states the reasons for revising the Action Plan, describes the mechanism for monitoring its implementation, and presents an overview of the implementation of the Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System and its priority goals. This is followed by an overview of the measures from the previous Action Plan which have already been undertaken (the undertaken measures are no longer listed in the revised plan). Further chapters elaborate on the following thematic units: independence of the judiciary, impartiality, professionalism and expertise in the judiciary, efficiency of the judiciary, free legal aid, and the prison system. A new chapter relates to war crimes proceedings, where special attention is paid to impartiality in war crimes trials and protection of witnesses. As opposed to the previous Action Plan, in which measures were listed in a numerical sequence, in the revised Action Plan the measures are grouped in thematic units or chapters. The measures in the revised Action Plan are numbered in a new way, with the old numbering given in brackets in order to retain the layout and connection with the previous Action Plan. In cases where the measures from the previous Action Plan have been revised, the reference rev is given before the old numbering enclosed in brackets. In cases where some measures in this Action Plan refer to the adoption of laws, the set time limits refer to the time limits for submitting the proposal of a certain law for parliamentary procedure.

Monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan lies within the competence of the Independent Department for Strategic Development (hereinafter: Independent Department) within the Ministry of Justice. To ensure the best possible implementation of the designated tasks, it has been decided that the Independent Department should become a Directorate and that new staff should be recruited. Within the Directorate a Sector for the Development of Judiciary with two units (Unit for the Implementation of the Justice Reform Strategy and Unit for the Technical Assistance Projects) will be established. Implementation of the measures included in the Action Plan is monitored through regular reports made by the responsible directorates. Based on the reports, the Department makes a single final report based on which the achievements made are checked and the Action Plan revised. Furthermore, regular revisions of the Action Plan are also one of the ways of monitoring its implementation and the efficiency of its measures. In 2006, the Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy was formed. It is comprised of the highest-ranking judicial officials (such as the Minister of Justice, the President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, the State Attorney General of the Republic of Croatia, the President of the Judiciary Committee of the Croatian Parliament, the President of the Croatian Notaries Chamber, the President of the Croatian Bar Association, and state secretaries in the Ministry of Justice). The task of the Council is to encourage and guide the implementation of the measures that form part of the judicial reform.

The Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System has been successfully implemented. The measures included in the Action Plan are being applied and are yielding good results. Of the foreseen 95 measures, 42 have been implemented. The following measures from the previous AP have been implemented: Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 24, 26, 33, 35, 46, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 65, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 78, 81, 84, 85, 89, 94, and 95. Most of the implemented measures are no longer presented as measures in this revised Action Plan. Some of the measures are now permanent activities, and some did not yield the desired results (Nos. 28, 40, 41, 42 from the previous AP), so they were modified and adjusted to better suit the needs of the judicial reform. The revision of the Action plan is based primarily on experience gained through its implementation. On the basis of the analysis of the present results it was noticed that in some areas new measures need to be defined. On the other hand, it was noticed that some of the measures are too general and they need to be adjusted. As stated previously, the Action Plan is divided into several thematic units, and each of the chapters deals with the measures that belong to the thematic unit in question. Each chapter first states the measures achieved, with brief information on the effects of the measure achieved. Further in this chapter, a concise overview is given of the progress made in the judicial reform. This chapter also provides a brief presentation of future activities included in the revised Action Plan. These activities are broken down in the chapters ahead in detailed tables showing specific measures, time limits, competent authorities and funds needed for implementation.

With respect to the strengthening of the independence of the judiciary in the implementation of the measures included in the Action Plan of the Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System, emphasis is placed on the procedures of the appointment and assessment of work of judicial officials. In that sense, in February 2007, the new Rules of Procedure of the State Judiciary Council were adopted. In the procedure of the appointment of judges, the Rules of Procedure introduce the possibility of interviews with candidates, but also with the president of the Council of Judges who assessed the candidates, with a view to increasing the objectivity of the criteria used in selecting judges. In terms of the uniform, objective and transparent procedure for assessing the work of judges and court advisors, the Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges were adopted in July 2007, within the meaning of Articles 71 and 72 of the Courts Act (OG 150/05 and 16/07). The criteria fix the number of cases in each of the court branches which a judge should resolve annually, on average, bearing in mind the complexity of the case and the ways in which particular types of cases can be resolved. The adoption of the criteria was a precondition for the full application of Article 77 of the Courts Act which lays down the obligation of the president of the court to issue a decision on the fulfilment of judges' duties once a year. In late 2007, the Ministry of Justice developed the project entitled e-statistics as a new IT system for collecting statistics on the work of judges, which enables the monitoring of the fulfilment of judges' duties in line with the Framework Criteria. Furthermore, in September 2007, the Methodology for the Assessment of Judges’ Performance was adopted. This Methodology elaborates how the work performance of judges is assessed further to the criteria included in the Courts Act, introduces a points system, and standardises the procedure for all judges and all councils of judges. The president of the State Judiciary Council informed all Councils of Judges that it was necessary for all Councils of Judges to act uniformly and also gave instructions on how Councils of Judges must act to make their work legal and uniform in all the elements which precede the adoption of a decision on the appointment of judges.

With respect to strengthening the uniformity, objectivity and transparency of the procedure of assessing the work of state attorneys, further to the Act on Amendments to the Act on the State Attorney's Office of February 2007, a new system for assessing the work of deputy state attorneys is now in place and the system of internal supervision of the work of state attorneys has been improved. In April 2007, the Instructions for Assessing the Work of Officials in the State Attorney's Office was adopted. They have been applied since 1 September 2007. The final result, an evaluation concerning the past performance, has special significance in the appointment and promotion of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys. The State Attorney’s Office issued new Rules of Procedure on Internal Operations of State Attorneys’ Offices which determine the assessment of the work of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys, and security aspects of the work of state attorneys when it comes to secrecy of information and vetting of candidates.

The above-mentioned amendments set up the legal framework in terms of the independence of the judiciary, and the focus of future activities will be on consistent implementation of the adopted acts and subordinate legislation. Following the adoption of the subordinate legislation for assessing the work of judicial officials in 2007, measures will be taken in 2008 to monitor the implementation of objective criteria, which should eventually contribute to the transparency of the system of career management of judicial officials. In terms of the procedure for appointing judges, further opportunities to strengthen the role of the State Judiciary Council and the Councils of Judges will be re-evaluated, so that they will be able to interview all candidates proposed for the position of judge. In order to ensure uniformity in the procedures of appointment of judges carried out by Councils of Judges, amendments to the Courts Act will be proposed. These amendments will stipulate the adoption of the Rules of Procedure of Councils of Judges, which are to regulate the procedure of appointment of judges. For the purpose of strengthening transparency and objectivity in the procedure of selection of trainees, in 2008 the said procedure will be revised through the passing of a new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam.

In terms of the impartiality of the judiciary, measures have been taken for the adoption and application of the codes of ethics, and for the introduction of the obligation for all judges, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys to submit declarations of assets. In October 2006, the Code of Ethics for Judges was adopted. In the event of violation of the Code there are two possible outcomes, depending on the type of violation: the initiation of proceedings on account of the violation of the Code of Ethics for Judges before a Council of Judges, or the initiation of a disciplinary proceeding before the State Judiciary Council. By nature, every disciplinary violation in itself represents a violation of a certain provision of the Code. However, not every violation of the Code necessarily constitutes a disciplinary violation.

The new Code of Ethics for State Attorneys and Deputy State Attorneys was adopted on 5 February 2008 and it entered into force on the date of its adoption. Thus, along with the existing Code of Ethics for State Attorneys and the Code of Ethics for Civil Servants, the system of codes of ethics in the judiciary has been set up.

With a view to reducing the possibility of corruption in the judiciary, the amendments to the Courts Act of February 2007 lay down the obligation for all Croatian judges to submit declarations of their own assets, as well as the assets of their spouses and under-age children, that is, they must declare on an annual basis any substantial change in their assets, so that in cases of alleged corruption in the judiciary relevant data may be available. The amendments to the Act on the State Attorney’s Office introduce the obligation for all officials in the State Attorney's Office to submit declarations of their assets. Further to the foregoing, in March 2007 the Ordinance on the form and content of declarations of assets of judges, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys was issued. Declarations of assets were submitted by all 1,937 judges and 576 state attorneys. These data are kept in the Ministry of Justice.

Concerning the impartiality of the judiciary, the revision of the Action Plan has shown that the legislative framework is well regulated and that measures should now be aimed at implementing and monitoring the functioning of the system. Special attention will be paid to monitoring respect of the codes of ethics of judges and state attorneys, and to sanctioning any violations.

With a view to strengthening professionalism and expertise in the judiciary, efforts have been made in the institutional development of the Judicial Academy and in the making of its curriculum. Initial steps have also been taken to resolve the issue of pre-service training.

The Judicial Academy (JA) was formed in 2004. In the first three years of its work, institutional foundations were set for the development and implementation of the programmes of professional development of judges and state attorneys. The Academy faces further work on the building of its institutional capacities with special emphasis on the strengthening of the institutional mechanisms for co-operation between the representatives of the JA and the judiciary and the development of regional centres, which is at the same time a priority for its institutional development over the short-term period. The Judicial Academy's Advisory Council (AC) and the Programme Council (PC) were also formed. The Advisory Council has the role of developing professional development strategies in the judiciary, approving the annual plans and programmes of work of the Judicial Academy's Programme Council, giving opinions on the training performed over the previous period, providing initiatives for further institutional development of the Academy, and providing support and advice to the Judicial Academy in terms of activities within its competence. The main duties of the Judicial Academy's Programme Council are to analyse the needs for professional development in the judiciary and to adopt draft plans and programmes of work of the Judicial Academy on the basis of the analysis, to review reports on the implementation of professional development programmes and to submit proposals for their improvement to the Judicial Academy, to propose professional ad hoc bodies for the implementation of specific projects of the Judicial Academy, and to contribute to the overall improvement of professional development through the Judicial Academy. The establishment of the AC and the PC has served to improve co-operation between representatives of the judiciary and the Judicial Academy and to create preconditions for planning the curricula on an annual basis, i.e. in the last quarter of the year for the following calendar year. The Judicial Academy's Regional Centres (RCs) were also formed with the county courts in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and Varaždin. Two regional co-ordinators were appointed for each Regional Centre, one for the target group of judges and one for the target group of state attorneys. Regional co-ordinators are at the same time members of the Judicial Academy's Programme Council. The Judicial Academy currently employs 15 staff members. Bearing in mind the importance of institutional strengthening and sustainable development of the Judicial Academy and the needs for professional development in the judiciary, it is necessary to make further efforts to recruit new staff and to strengthen the JA.

In addition to providing support to the AC and the PC, the Judicial Academy continues to make efforts to improve its institutional development in other aspects of its work, especially in terms of its internal structure and in improving the content of the programmes and the quality of implementation of professional development. The extent to which target groups are covered by professional development training programmes was also analysed, and the network of lecturers-trainers of the Academy was strengthened through the qualitative and ongoing implementation of ToT (training of trainers) activities and an increase in the number of trainers (110 judges and 45 state attorneys), and databases were upgraded. The publishing activity of the Academy began (three books issued, the first Academy Bulletin issued), and the JA library has been opened.

In July 2007, after an analysis of the needs for professional development, and with active support provided by the Programme Council and the Advisory Council, the Curriculum of the Academy for the second half of 2007 was adopted. The curriculum was sent to all courts and to the State Attorney's Office and was also placed on the website of the Judicial Academy. Thus, for the first time since the formation of the Academy (2004), the institutional mechanism of co-operation between the Academy, its advisory body and representatives of all target groups involved in the Programme Council came to life. For the first time, the 2008 Academy curriculum has been defined as an annual programme, which is the first step towards making a multiannual plan of professional development of judicial officials through the JA. In order to achieve progress in training before admittance to service, a working group was formed and entrusted with the preparation of a new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam.

In terms of professionalisation, the revised Action Plan pays special attention to the making and adoption of a multiannual strategy of development of the Judicial Academy. With a view to further strengthening the Judicial Academy, funds in the budget for the JA for 2008 rose to HRK 5,120,000 (in 2007 the total was HRK 3,100,000). On 8 May 2008, the Government of the Republic of Croatia appointed a new full-time director of the JA. In 2008, further recruitment in the JA will proceed in line with the job description and classification scheme, including the recruitment of administrators/clerks in the regional centres. As part of the reform of the system of pre-service training, a new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam will be adopted in 2008. The adoption of the new Act will be followed by amendments to other regulations on issues concerning trainees and court advisors. In parallel with such amendments, training programmes aimed at these target groups will be developed, ensuring the adoption of standard knowledge and skills for all future judges/state attorneys.

To increase professionalism and expertise in the judiciary, the strengthening of the Judicial Academy will continue, especially in the field of strengthening the institutionalised mechanisms of co-operation between the JA and the judiciary, primarily through the work of the Advisory Council and the Programme Council. The Rules of Procedure of the Advisory Council and the Programme Council of the Judicial Academy and the Ordinance on access to professional development will be adopted. At the same time, the JA's Regional Centres will continue to be developed. In the mid-term period, appropriate permanent premises for the JA will be ensured. These premises will have to be adjusted to the nature of the JA’s activities (implementation of professional development and organisation of training) and will need to be sufficiently large to meet the needs of human resources strengthening of the JA and of its further development, especially the requirements of pre-service training.

The main problem encumbering the judiciary is the large number of unresolved cases and lengthy court proceedings. Therefore, the judicial reform to date has focused on increasing the efficiency of the judiciary, while measures were aimed at tackling the causes of the problems in the judiciary. With regard to the efficiency of the judiciary, great efforts were made to reduce the backlog of unresolved cases as a crucial issue in the judicial reform. Furthermore, to increase efficiency, capital investments in the judiciary also increased and measures were taken to reduce the duration of court cases, to introduce modern information technologies, and to promote mediation as an alternative method of dispute resolution. The implementation of judicial inspections continued so as to monitor the performance of the duties of court administration and to increase its efficiency, and the first steps were made in the rationalisation of the network of courts. Finally, the legislative amendments served to alleviate the workload of courts concerning non-court matters (such as execution, probate proceedings).

The revised Action Plan also places its main emphasis on measures aimed at raising the efficiency of the judiciary. In defining measures, special attention was paid to reducing the number of old cases and to shortening the duration of court proceedings. To raise efficiency, measures are grouped into the following subgroups: measures aimed at strengthening institutional capacities for the implementation of the judicial reform; measures aimed at resolving the backlog with special emphasis on old cases; measures aimed at shortening the duration of proceedings; measures aimed at the more efficient organisation of the judicial system with special emphasis on rationalisation of the network of courts; measures aimed at the unification of case law; measures connected with investments in infrastructure and equipment (introduction of modern information technologies); measures of strengthening judicial inspection; measures aimed at improving relations with the media and the public; and measures aimed at expanding alternative dispute resolution. The measures are mutually connected and complementary.

Since the beginning of the implementation of the Strategy and its Action Plan, the most noticeable results have been achieved in reducing the number of unresolved cases. The number of unresolved cases has been reduced by 40%. At the beginning of the reform (31 December 2004), the number of unresolved cases was 1,640,365, and by 31 December 2007 the number had dropped to 969,100. Most unresolved cases are related to misdemeanours (358,916 cases). Concerning the remaining unresolved cases (610,184 cases), most of them are unresolved cases at municipal courts (478,450), and mostly civil cases.

It should be borne in mind that the backlog refers to cases older than three years; moreover, cases are already regarded as old when the proceedings enter the third year of litigation. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia carries out measures to reduce the backlog of old cases on an ongoing basis. In that sense, it systematically monitors the reduction in the number of criminal and civil cases older than three years. In the period from 31 December 2006 to 31 December 2007, the total number of unresolved cases older than three or more years at municipal and county courts was reduced by 46.17% in the criminal branch, and in the civil branch by 31.9%. In 2007, the Supreme Court also introduced a programme of monitoring criminal cases which might become barred by the statute of limitations. To reduce the backlog, the Supreme Court continuously performs measures of assigning and re-distributing cases from courts with an excessive workload to those with less work.

Since the implementation of the judicial reform has shown that the main causes of inefficiency in the judiciary lie in civil and misdemeanour proceedings, the revised Action Plan aims to develop specific measures for such cases. It was observed that problems pertaining to a large number of old cases and lengthy court proceedings are connected with only a small number of courts, which is why this Action Plan foresees the adoption of special plans for the accelerated resolution of old cases for the least prompt courts.

Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy to date has shown that Croatia has too many courts and that current network is ineffective and too expensive for the state. In the revision of the Action Plan, the rationalisation of the network of courts was assessed as one of the key measures, because it is forms a basis to conduct the entire judicial reform. On 9 March 2007, the Croatian Government adopted a conclusion according to which the rationalisation of the court network is to be carried out by merging courts of the same type. The proposal of the new Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of Courts defining a new reduced network of municipal courts has been drafted and sent for parliamentary procedure. The Government proposed to reduce the number of municipal courts from the existing 108 to 67. The merging of courts is planned to be implemented over the course of the short-term, mid-term and long-term periods. As regards misdemeanour courts, in 2008 a proposal for the rationalisation of the network of misdemeanour courts will be made. It will be the basis for drafting a new Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of Misdemeanour Courts. Once the merging of first-instance courts has been implemented, it is planned to carry out an analysis of the reorganisation of second-instance and specialised courts. The proposal for the rationalisation of the network of state attorneys’ offices will follow the rationalisation of the network of courts, since the territorial jurisdiction of state attorneys’ offices corresponds to the territorial jurisdiction of the courts. Accordingly, it will be necessary to amend the Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of State Attorneys’ Offices.

In view of the duration of court proceedings, the legal institute of the "petition for the protection of the right to a trial within a reasonable time" is applied. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia is competent to decide on all such cases in matters pending before county courts, the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia, the High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia, and the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia. Second-instance courts are competent to decide on the petition for the protection of the right to a trial within a reasonable time in proceedings pending before first-instance courts. A module was made to monitor all cases involving petitions for the protection of the right to a trial within a reasonable time for county courts and the High Commercial Court. In 2007, according to the data for all county courts and the Supreme Court, a total of 4,403 petitions were received in civil matters and 83 in criminal matters.

In the implementation of the reform, special attention is paid to the improvement of procedural laws in order to prevent, to the greatest extent possible, parties from abusing procedural powers. Furthermore, an aim is through the amendments to the procedural laws to simplify and accelerate court proceedings, which should finally lead to the increased efficiency of courts and to a reduction in the number of unresolved cases. A new Misdemeanour Act was adopted in October 2007. Its purpose was to accelerate the misdemeanour proceedings and to release it from an excessive takeover of the provisions pertaining to the criminal procedure which are not relevant in view of the purpose and nature of the misdemeanour procedure, while avoiding all unnecessary actions and costs and preventing any abuse of the rights which belong to the parties and participants in the proceedings. Furthermore, in April 2007, a Platform was also made for the preparation of the new Criminal Procedure Act, which includes strategic guidelines for a thorough transformation of the criminal procedure.

In the period ahead, it is planned to amend a number of procedural laws (the Criminal Procedure Act, the Civil Procedure Act, and the Administrative Disputes Act) with a view to simplifying and accelerating court proceedings, and preventing the abuse of procedural rights by parties in the proceedings. The new Criminal Procedure Act will reform the pre-trial proceedings by terminating investigations by judges and introducing investigations by investigation officers. New forms of summary proceedings will be introduced; procedural rules on parties’ presence in the hearings and the disciplining of the parties will be improved. Some procedural phases and procedural actions will be reformed as well. In 2008, it is also planned to amend the Civil Procedure Act, as the largest backlog exists precisely in that segment. Amendments to the Civil Procedure Act have been made. They aim at accelerating civil proceedings and preventing parties to proceedings from abusing procedural rights. The goal of the amendments to the Civil Procedure Act is to introduce new norms that will regulate the delivery of documents, the revision of judgments, the time limit for bringing evidence and facts, and to make any other changes necessary to accelerate proceedings. The project of reforming the administrative branch is also underway to strengthen the work and functioning of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia, and to draft a new Administrative Disputes Act. The capacity and activities of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia will also be strengthened through improved court and court case management. The reform will cover the resolution of the issue of full jurisdiction of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia to satisfy the requirements of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and will tackle the organisation problem of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia.

In order to increase the efficiency of courts and to reduce the duration of court proceedings, mediation is encouraged at courts and in the chambers. Mediation is conducted before eight municipal courts, before Zagreb Commercial Court and before the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia. Mediation Centres have been formed with the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Croatian Association of Employers, and the Croatian Bar Association. In 2008, it is planned to introduce mediation to other municipal courts, mostly those with the greatest workload of active cases and those with the greatest backlog, as well as to commercial courts. In co-operation with the JA, the training of a number of judges and state attorneys has been completed. A brochure and a poster were published, encouraging citizens and businessmen to use mediation as one of the ways of dispute resolution. In addition, the plan is to proceed in 2008 with the promotion of alternative dispute resolution, so that the largest possible number of cases is resolved outside the courtroom.

With a view to ensuring suitable working conditions in judicial bodies, in the period 2004-2007 capital investments and investments in equipment were made in a total amount of HRK 304,489,487.85. The funds were used to finance capital investments in the form of acquisition, construction, repair and maintenance of buildings and repayment of loans for the needs of judicial bodies. With respect to capital investments in informatisation in the period 2004-2007, a total of HRK 158,684,733.00 was allocated from the State Budget. Funds were used to acquire IT equipment, to proceed with the process of informatisation and maintenance of the existing registers, the process of informatisation of land registry books and of creating a digital land register database at the level of the Republic of Croatia. Funds were also used to prepare the infrastructure – project documents were made for the structural cabling of local computer and telephone networks at 74 locations covering 140 judicial bodies – and to ensure continued maintenance and improvement of the registers within the competence of the judiciary (accounting records, criminal and misdemeanour records, records of civil servants and employees, the court register, land registry books). Considering that improving efficiency of the judiciary also requires investments in infrastructure and equipment, significant investments will continue in order to create better conditions for work in the judiciary. Approximately HRK 130,000,000 is planned for capital investments in 2008.

Measures of introducing modern information technologies are also underway to increase the efficiency of the judiciary and to prevent corruption. In January 2007, the Integrated Court Management System eFILE (ICMS) project began at the Municipal Court in Pula, the Commercial Court in Split, the Commercial Court in Zagreb and the Municipal Court in Zagreb. Training in basic computer skills and in using software for eFILE (ICMS) is also underway. Until 31 December 2007, a total of 1,200 persons attended. Further investments will be made in modern information technologies and in expanding the eFILE (ICMS) project to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia, the County Court in Zagreb and the County Court in Pula, which is planned to be completed by mid-2008. In 2008, an additional 450 staff members of the above-mentioned courts where the eFILE system is to be used will undergo training. It is also planned to continue with the implementation of the eFILE system in about 60 courts, where about 2,123 staff members will have to be trained in order to use the system. This training is planned to be completed by the end of May 2009. Informatisation and modernisation of public registers of the judiciary (the court register of companies and the land register) also continues. It is now possible to use the Internet to obtain information in the land register for almost all plots. It is planned to complete the process of putting verified land register data on the Internet for the entire Republic of Croatia by the end of 2008.

Up to April 2008, the Judicial Inspection carried out an inspection of the performance of the duties of judicial administration at 41 courts. After the inspections, three persons were relieved of duty as president of the court, and at two municipal courts the presidents of the courts in question resigned after such inspections. At three municipal and one county court, inspections were performed immediately before the four-year term of the presidents was to expire and, in view of the results of the inspections, the presidents of these courts were not re-elected. The Judicial Inspection will continue to monitor judicial administration in courts and state attorneys’ offices. The revised AP envisages capacity strengthening of the Judicial Inspection of the Ministry of Justice, which will facilitate regular inspections of judicial administration at courts and state attorneys’ offices, and provides for the adoption of an annual plan of Judicial Inspection and a standard evaluation form to be used in Judicial Inspection.

On 16 May 2008, the Croatian Parliament adopted the Act on Free Legal Aid by which a comprehensive system of legal aid is created. A certain period is required for the system of legal aid to be implemented in practice. The revised Action Plan envisages concrete measures to set up the structure and all the preconditions required for the full implementation of the Act: the adoption of the implementing regulations, the establishment of the required organisational structures, recruitment and training of employees, the setting up of the information system and procurement of equipment, and the organisation of an awareness-raising campaign to inform the public about the new system. All these actions regarding the implementation of the Act on Free Legal Aid are due to be completed by 1 February 2009 and starting from this date citizens will exercise the right to free legal aid.

With a view to improving the prison system, measures have been taken primarily relating to the training of prison staff, but also to the improvement of the training of prisoners, and concerning legislative activity in the area. Informatisation of the prison system is also underway, and so are changes to the Prison System Database. In view of the continuous increasing trend in the number of prisoners, particularly in prisons and closed penitentiaries, steps have been taken to increase the accommodation capacity and to improve accommodation conditions (infrastructure). In 2007, the Act on Amendments to the Act on Enforcement of Prison Terms was adopted. It incorporates the principles contained in international declarations and conventions relating to the treatment of prisoners, human rights and their protection. Fundamental human rights are guaranteed to all prisoners. Along with the executive branch (the Central Office of the Directorate for the Prison System), the judicial branch (judges responsible for the execution of sentences within county courts) also controls the protection of prisoners' rights.

With a view to further improving the prison system, measures included in the revised AP focus on strengthening the legislative and institutional framework, the training of prison staff to raise the level of professional qualifications and increase the level of security in the prison system, the education of prisoners and special programmes of action for specific groups of prisoners, the implementation of the prison IT system, and the construction of facilities for the accommodation of prisoners. In terms of the legislative framework, it is planned to adopt the Act on Enforcement of Criminal Sanctions and Measures against Juvenile Perpetrators of Crimes, the Probation Act, amendments to the Ordinance on the method of performing activities in security departments in penitentiaries and prisons, and amendments to the Ordinance on the methods of applying coercive measures.

The Republic of Croatia continues to fully co-operate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and to work on improving the standards relating to war crimes proceedings before Croatian courts, both in relation to proceedings transferred from ICTY as well as domestic ones. Improvement in the quality of trials for war crimes has been noticed and was especially emphasised in the Round Table "War crime trials in Croatia – challenges and perspectives" organised on 26 March 2008 by an NGO specialised in monitoring war crimes. Still, in the processing of war crimes, certain issues remain to be resolved, and further progress must be made particularly with regard to the proceedings conducted and judgments rendered in the early 1990s.

Consequently, this Action Plan focuses on improving the use of video conferences in the procedure, strengthening the procedural position of witnesses/injured parties by providing them with institutional support, strengthening the procedural position of the accused by providing suitable court-appointed defence counsels, improving the regional co-operation of state prosecutors in the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes by creating a unified database of war crimes committed in the region, processing still unresolved and unprocessed war crimes, and finally creating a more flexible system of the revision of judgements rendered in absentia.

With a view to further strengthening the independence of the judiciary, the Action Plan dedicates several measures to the career management of judges and state attorneys, and in particular to the system of their appointment and relief of duties. In the implementation of the Action Plan, two measures relating to the independence of the judiciary have been completed. Measure No. 4 of the previous AP - Amendments to the Act on the State Judiciary Council (SJC) concerning disciplinary proceedings, and measure No. 12 of the previous AP - Introducing clear and objectively verifiable criteria for the quantitative assessment of the work of all judges. Implementation of the said measures has served to set up a transparent system for the appointment and release from duties of judges and state attorneys, career management, and performance assessment. It has also served to regulate disciplinary proceedings for both judges and state attorneys.

Concerning disciplinary proceedings and Measure No. 4 of the previous AP, the amendments to the Act on the State Judiciary Council (OG 150/05) served to raise the efficiency of the work of the SJC in the implementation of disciplinary procedures against judges. The main novelty is connected with the holding of the evidence procedure. In addition, amendments to the Act also increased the absolute statute of limitations for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings from two to three years as of the disciplinary offence in question. Whenever disciplinary proceedings are initiated within the limitation period, they cannot become barred by the objective limitation period, meaning that the proceedings must be concluded by a decision on the existence or non-existence of the judge's disciplinary accountability.

Under the previous SJC Act, the entire disciplinary proceeding had to be conducted before all 11 members of the SJC. This requirement proved impracticable and resulted in protracted disciplinary proceedings. For that reason, the SJC Act was amended by introducing two-stage disciplinary proceedings. In the first stage, once a disciplinary proceeding has been initiated by an authorised person (president of a court, president of a higher court, president of the Supreme Court, or the Minister of Justice), the SJC appoints at its session a three-member Disciplinary Council, of which two members must be judges. The Council conducts proceedings, hears the defence of the incriminated judge and provides evidence deemed necessary, with the application of the relevant rules of the Criminal Procedure Act. The SJC decides on the existence of disciplinary accountability and on disciplinary punishment at its full session where the president of the Disciplinary Council presents the course of the proceedings, the evidence and the facts established, and proposes a disciplinary punishment. At that session, the incriminated judge and the proponent may give their final statements and proposals. After consultation, the SJC makes a decision on disciplinary accountability, which is made public. In reaching its decision, the SJC is not bound to the proposal put forward by the Disciplinary Council. The incriminated judge has the right to appeal against the decision on disciplinary accountability to the Constitutional Court. The mentioned amendments have significantly shortened the duration of disciplinary proceedings and greatly improved the efficiency of the SJC.
In the period from 2000 to March 2008, a total of 105 disciplinary proceedings were conducted, of which 11 resulted in relief from duty, 11 in reprimands, 23 in fines, 4 in acquittals, 19 proposals were rejected, 6 were withdrawn, 10 cases were suspended because the incriminated judges themselves asked to be relieved of duty, there were 3 waivers, 1 case was ceded to the State Attorney's Office, 1 to the Ministry of Justice, whereas 16 proceedings are still underway.

Since its formation in 2001, the State Attorney's Council has been continuously conducting disciplinary proceedings in which the disciplinary measures of relief from duty are imposed in the event of serious criminal offences. Although such cases have been rather few, the imposition of severe punishments in cases involving gross neglect of duty has led to the establishment of a clear practice resulting in a reduced number of disciplinary proceedings. It is thus an established practice at the State Attorney's Office to do annual, regular or extraordinary reviews of the work of subordinated state attorneys’ offices or individual state attorneys or deputy state attorneys. Upon completion of the reviews, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys are presented with the results of the review of their work. It is often the case that state attorneys and deputy state attorneys, when presented with the results of their work or when warned of the irregularities found in their work which would result in a request to initiate disciplinary proceedings, themselves ask to be relieved of duty. Although no records are kept on such cases, in the past two years at least ten deputy state attorneys have submitted their resignations on that account.

Regarding Measure No. 12 of the previous AP, the Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges were adopted and have been applied since 1 July 2007, and in September 2007 the Methodology for Assessment of Judges’ Performance was adopted. The Framework Criteria provide for completely clear and objectively verifiable criteria for a quantitative assessment of the performance of judges. The adoption of the Framework Criteria also served to introduce uniform, objective and transparent criteria for the making of decisions by local councils of judges in the procedure of appointing judges. During 2008, the practical application of the Framework Criteria and the Methodology will be monitored to determine whether the criteria are appropriate and objective and whether they require further adjustments. In accordance with the results of the analysis, after the elapse of one year, at the end of 2008, a revision of the Framework Criteria and the Methodology will be undertaken, if necessary.

For the proficient selection of judicial staff, it is extremely important that impartial and transparent criteria are established from the very start of a judicial career, for the selection of trainees as well as for court advisors. Detailed criteria concerning the selection of trainee candidates for work in judicial bodies are already in use. Court trainees or state attorney trainees are recruited for work at courts and at state attorneys’ offices to practise traineeship pursuant to the Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam and the Ordinance on the structure and the rules of procedure of the competition board set up to fill trainee vacancies at judicial bodies. The selection procedure is conducted through a public competition for potential candidates to submit their applications. The decision on the selection of trainees is made by the Minister of Justice at the proposal of the competition board. Criteria for the selection of the best candidates include performance during university studies, the length of undergraduate study, university awards received, and the opinion of the president of the court or the state attorney who has interviewed the candidate.

In order to further improve the transparency and objectivity of trainee selection procedures, in 2008 the court trainee selection procedure will be revised through the adoption of the new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam (new Measure No. 8). The new Act will introduce uniform, transparent and objective criteria for the selection of court trainees. This will include testing as part of the trainee selection procedure. Testing of court trainees will be elaborated under a special ordinance (new Measure No. 9), as well as a health examination, including a psychological test, a foreign language test, a computer proficiency test, assessment of legal knowledge and skills required for service in judicial bodies, and compulsory interviews with the candidates. After the admission of the court trainees, they will be included in the training system and their performance during the traineeship period will be closely monitored and evaluated in accordance with clear and transparent criteria. The evaluation of the trainees' performance will serve as criteria for the selection of the best trainees as core personnel from which court advisors, and later judges, will be recruited. Upon completed traineeship, trainees are not automatically promoted to the rank of court adviser. After finishing the trainee service and passing the judicial exam, they may apply for the post. In deciding on their applications, account is taken of the quality of their work during traineeship. Court advisors are civil servants, so their admission to the civil service is subject to the appropriate provisions of the Civil Service Act. According to Articles 45-52 of this Act, the decisions on admission to the civil service are made by the head of the judicial body concerned, i.e., the president of the court following a vacancy announcement and the conducted public competition. A list of registered candidates who meet the formal requirements of the competition is compiled by the competition board appointed by the head of the judicial body. The board invites the candidates to take a written test followed by an interview before the competition board. The selection of the listed candidates is made on the basis of their test results and the interview, taking into account their professional abilities, skills and acquired experience scored by points. The court president selects each candidate on the basis of a proposal of the competition board which draws up a list of candidates ranked by points achieved in the tests and the interview. In the recruitment process of court advisers, court presidents and the competition board act in accordance with the Civil Service Act and the Regulation on publishing and conducting calls for applications and internal job vacancy advertisments in the civil service. In this way, a uniform and objective procedure is ensured in the whole of the Republic of Croatia. Court advisers are civil servants, so the Civil Service Act applies directly to them. But bearing in mind that work in the judiciary requires certain specific knowledge and competence in addition to the prescribed general conditions, the need for introducing additional specific criteria for the selection of court advisers has been noted. In order to further improve the selection system for court advisors, the Ministry of Justice will set up a uniform knowledge test for the recruitment of court advisers which will be implemented in a uniform way in all courts in the Republic of Croatia (Measure No. 10). This will further strengthen objectivity and transparency in the recruitment process of court advisers.

Regarding the evaluation of the work of court advisors, after the Courts Act entered into force in December 2005 and in which are prescribed all the types of proceedings and cases that courts advisors are authorised to handle independently, the Ministry of Justice instructed all courts to include the results of independent work by courts advisors in their statistical reports. Furthermore, in inspecting the work of judicial administrations, the Inspection Service of the Ministry of Justice is required to pay special attention to the performance of court advisors. Since the performance of court advisors is thus monitored and assessed separately, it provides a basis for the fair evaluation of their entire previous work when they apply for judicial vacancies.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, judges and state attorneys are appointed for a five-year term at the time of their first appointment. The performance of their duties during this five-year term is evaluated according to a transparent mechanism which is now in place with objective criteria for the evaluation of the performance of their duties during this five-year term, which forms the basis for the adoption of a decision on appointment to permanent duty. Any judge being appointed to permanent duty must be assessed by the council of judges, for the first time after two years of his/her term, and then again after four years following his/her appointment. The president of the court must notify the State Judiciary Council six months before the expiration of the five-year term that a decision on permanent appointment must be made. When making the assessment, the council of judges must take into account all criteria specified in Article 77 of the Courts Act (whether the judge issued the number of decisions he/she was supposed to issue under the Framework Criteria, whether he/she complied with the time limits fixed for making decisions, what decisions were made in the appeals proceedings, whether he/she participated in professional development, whether he/she was a lecturer, whether he/she published any professional or scientific papers, whether he/she was deployed to work at a higher court) and the judge is then evaluated according to the criteria laid down in the Methodology for Assessment of Judges’ Performance. The decision is made in writing and it must include reasons for the decision. The judge may submit an appeal against the decision within eight days to the special council of the Supreme Court.

When making the decision on permanent appointment to judicial duty, the SJC must take into account the assessment on the performance of judicial duties, all data on the work of the judge, statistics on both quantitative and qualitative results, the reasons for which the judge might not have achieved the results expected from him/her, and other circumstances specific to the case, and then adopt a decision on appointment by public vote of all members. Public voting contributes to the transparency of the work of the SJC, but also emphasises the responsibility of every member of the SJC for the adopted decisions. Sessions of the SJC at which such decisions on the appointment of judges are made are public (open to the public) regardless of the type of appointment. In the application of the system to date, seventy-one judges were appointed to permanent judicial duty, while four where not appointed to permanent duty. Of the four judges who were not appointed permanently, two requested recourse before the Administrative Court. The proceedings in question are still ongoing. In addition, five judges did not enter the procedure of permanent appointment, because they had been previously relieved of duty.

At the first appointment, when assuming judicial duties for the first time, judges are appointed for a rather long five-year term. Such a practice is not a rarity in Europe and was introduced in Croatia in the wake of constitutional reforms in 2000. The rationale behind this solution is to make the system of judicial appointments capable of reacting in cases where the appointed judges are not up to the obligations and responsibilities they bear. As judges are evaluated twice during their five-year term of office, and all the guidelines laid down in Article 77 of the Court Act and the Methodology for Assessment of Judges’ Performance are taken into consideration, any arbitrariness is thus excluded, thanks also to the fact that long-term appointments are also decided upon by the SJC. A probation period for judges in their first appointment for a five-year term is a category prescribed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Any amendment to this solution would mean an amendment to the Constitution. In the first five-year term, in addition to the regular monitoring of their work, the performance of judges is evaluated after two and after four years in office. The Judges Council and the president of the court give an opinion on the permanent appointment of each judge. Beside this, the SJC has at its disposal all the data that provide a realistic picture of the judges’ work in the five-year period.
The function of a five-year term is to provide protection of the judges’ interests, because through a five-year term, the work and competences of judges can be realistically evaluated. If this period were shorter, and a two-year period is often mentioned, taking into account the specific nature of the judicial profession, a real danger exists that newly appointed judges over a two-year period would not be able to fully demonstrate their competences. This would lead to unfair relations in their grading and in the evaluation of their work, including the general and special virtues that are necessary for a judge. In the context of the planned improvements in the process of appointing judges, an analysis of the five-year probation term for judges will be made in the coming period (Measure No. 2).

The procedure of appointing judges and relieving them of duty is conducted by the State Judiciary Council as an autonomous and independent body in accordance with the Courts Act and the State Judiciary Council Act.

The Ministry of Justice, based on the proposal put forward by the president of a court and in accordance with the Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges, makes a public announcement for a judicial vacancy and forwards the collected applications to the respective councils of judges for their opinion. For the purpose of forming their opinion, the council of judges may request information about the applicants from the president of the court where the applicants served or from the president of the next higher court, provided that the candidate has already served as a judge, court advisor or judicial trainee. It may also approach other bodies which can provide information relevant in terms of general and special requirements for a judicial post if the applicant has never served in the judiciary. It can ask the Judicial Academy if a judge participated there as a lecturer or attended an advanced training course. If a candidate's performance has already been assessed, the council of judges will take such an assessment into account in forming its opinion, and if none is available it will obtain an opinion from the competent council of judges. The opinion of the council on candidates is presented in writing. The councils of judges have to present their opinions on the applicants to the Ministry of Justice within 60 days. All the received candidates' applications and the opinions of the council of judges on them are forwarded by the Ministry of Justice to the State Judiciary Council which in turn forwards the applications submitted by qualified candidates to the Judiciary Committee of the Croatian Parliament for their written opinion. Finally, the State Judiciary Council issues its judicial appointment decision.

Within the judicial appointment procedure, the State Judiciary Council considers opinions on candidates given by the councils of judges. The councils of judges are special judicial self-government bodies set up at county courts (to cover a county court and municipal courts under the jurisdiction of that county court), at the High Commercial Court (to cover the High Commercial Court and all commercial courts), and the High Misdemeanour Court (to cover the High Misdemeanour Court and all misdemeanour courts). The members of these councils of judges are the judges of the mentioned courts elected by secret ballot among the judges themselves. The functions of the councils of judges for the Administrative Court and the Supreme Court are performed by a session of all the judges of each of these courts. In giving their opinions on the applicants, the councils of judges also take into account the assessment of their judicial record. Such assessments are made according to Article 79 of the Courts Act when a judge is assigned to another court or if appointed to a permanent judicial duty. In making their assessments, the councils of judges ought to take into account all the above-outlined parameters prescribed by Article 77 of the Courts Act and in compliance with the Methodology for Assessment of Judges’ Performance. Although not required by law, it has become an established practice of the councils of judges to hold an interview with the applicants before giving their opinion on them.

In the judicial appointment procedure, the provisions of the new SJC Rules of Procedure (OG 13/07) are applied, whereby some changes in the SJC's appointment procedure of judges have been introduced. Thus, the SJC can invite the candidates to an interview as part of the appointment procedure. In that case, all candidates who fulfil the formal conditions are called to the interview. The invitation must state the reason for the requested interview and that the candidates are free to present to the SJC during the interview any information relevant for the assessment of their professional competence. Furthermore, the SJC may invite to its session the presidents of the councils of judges which assess the candidates to present their opinions and assessments. Based on the collected data and interviews with the candidates which are intended to establish the facts relevant to the appointment decision but which are not evident from the data earlier submitted to the SJC, the SJC ascertains for every individual candidate to what extent he/she meets the general and special requirements for appointment to a judicial post. In accordance with its Rules of Procedure, in deciding on judicial appointments, the SJC examines all the received data on each candidate along with the opinions of the council of judges responsible for the court where the judicial vacancies are to be filled. Councils of judges as well as presidents of courts can also interview candidates proposed for the position of judges.After the adoption of the Rules of Procedure for the Work of Councils of Judges, councils of judges will be obliged to conduct interviews with all candidates in the process of appointing judges (new Measure No. 5).

The appointment decisions contain a general statement and give the precise reasons why a particular candidate has been chosen. Such decisions are sent to all the candidates and are subject to a review by the Administrative Court in proceedings involving the protection of constitutionally defined human and civil rights and freedoms (Article 66 of the Administrative Disputes Act) and, in some cases, by the Constitutional Court. The statements of the judicial appointment decisions are published in the Official Gazette.

The judicial appointment procedure, regardless of whether judges are appointed to permanent duty or to serve at a higher or another court as part of their career advancement, has been made maximally impartial, to the effect that the decisions on judicial appointments and promotions depend on the candidate's competence and professional and moral integrity, since the decisions are made objectively, based on the candidate's record. The SJC is an independent and collective body composed of judges, lawyers and university professors as independent judicial professionals, whose independence derives from the institutional independence and autonomy of law firms, universities and the judiciary. This also makes the SJC institutionally protected from undue influences. On the other hand, the SJC's appointment decisions are subject to control by the Administrative and Constitutional Courts which are concerned not only about formal criteria, but also about the existence of substantial reasons for an appointment being denied to other candidates.

With a view to improving the transparency in the work of the SJC, in February 2008 the SJC website was opened for public access (www.dsv.pravosudje.hr). This website regularly announces decisions on judicial appointments, relief from duty and disciplinary proceedings in Croatia. E-queries about the work and activity of the State Judiciary Council can be sent.

The revised Action Plan includes new measures aimed at further improving the procedure of appointing judges, where special emphasis is placed on strengthening the transparency and objectivity of the procedure. Regarding the election of judges, further possibilities to strengthen the role of the SJC, as well as the councils of judges, will be reconsidered, with a view to enabling them to interview all the candidates proposed for the position of judge. The SJC now has its secretary and two administrative employees, thus strengthening the SJC's administrative capacities. If a need arises for further administrative and technical capacity building, additional staff will be recruited for the SJC's secretariat. The current competences of the SJC, as prescribed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and the State Judicial Council Act, do not require a large administrative apparatus for the normal functioning of the SJC. Therefore, if the competences are not increased, it will not be necessary to greatly enlarge the administrative capacity. However, if there is such a need, upon the request of the SJC, further strengthening of the administrative-technical assistance to SJC will follow. In order to ensure the uniform procedure of the councils of judges in the appointment of judges, in the planned amendments to the Courts Act (already in parliamentary procedure) the obligation will be laid down to adopt Rules of Procedure for the Work of Councils of Judges in the Process of Appointing Judges. These Rules of Procedure will be drafted based on the Guidelines for the Appointment of Judges and their Career Promotion which will be finalised by the end of 2008 (Measure No. 4). The Rules of Procedure will define the obligation of councils of judges to conduct compulsory interviews with all the candidates in the selection process (new Measure No. 5). Furthermore, the Rules of Procedure will define objective, transparent and unified criteria for the selection of judges. The objective of these changes is to ensure that all councils of judges act in a unified manner in the selection process.

While councils of judges will be obliged to hold interviews with all candidates, the SJC will have this obligation only in cases where candidates come from a different legal background. This is necessary since not all candidates come from the court system, but from the economic or other sectors. These interviews are important given that all candidates who do not come from the court system will not have been evaluated according to the Methodology for Assessment of Judges’ Performance and the Framework Criteria.

In order to systematically monitor and improve the system of recruiting trainees, court advisors and judges, the Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy will make an analysis of the recruitment system by the end of 2008 (Measure No. 11). In the mentioned analysis, an assessment will be made on whether the current solutions are adequate to ensure an objective, transparent and uniform system of recruitment in the judiciary, or whether further amendments are needed. At the same time, the possibility of introducing further objective criteria in the process of appointing judges will be considered (e.g. written tests).

Under the Act on Amendments to the Courts Act, passed at the end of 2000 (OG 129/00), powers to appoint the presidents of courts was delegated to the Minister of Justice, with a provision that in electing the president of a court the Minister will heed the opinion of the responsible council of judges on all candidates who have responded to the competition, the judicial performance evaluation given for each of the candidates by the responsible council of judges, as well as the proposal of the responsible council of judges as to which candidate is to be elected. Before the passing of the said Act, the presidents of courts were appointed by the State Judiciary Council. The Association of Croatian Judges proposed to initiate a procedure of assessing the constitutionality of the provision of the Act on Amendments to the Courts Act according to which the power to appoint the presidents of courts is delegated to the Minister of Justice, on the grounds that this provision extends the scope of executive power beyond the limits defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and that the principle of the independence of judicial power is thereby derogated.

With its Decision of 12 July 2001, No. U-I-190/2001, the Constitutional Court turned down the proposal to initiate a procedure of assessing the constitutionality of the said provision, on the grounds that the presidents of courts are not a constitutional institution (with the exception of the president of the Supreme Court), so that the legal status of the presidents of courts can be defined through acts of parliament, including the powers to appoint the presidents, and that the provision authorising the Minister of Justice to appoint the presidents of courts does not derogate the constitutional principle of the independence of judicial power. Since the publication of the Decision of the Constitutional Court in the Official Gazette, the Minister of Justice has appointed presidents of 231 courts. Only in the case of 9 courts (less than 4%) did the Minister not elect the candidate proposed by the responsible council of judges. Therefore, only in a small percentage of cases has the Minister of Justice decided to appoint candidates not suggested by the judicial branch. Hence, the system is considered to be functioning well in practice. But as this issue was addressed in some documents of the European Commission, the Ministry of Justice will follow up the matter in practice and, if deficiencies are detected, any changes that are necessary will be made in the next revision of the Action Plan.

The appointment of state attorneys is regulated by the Act on the State Attorney's Office (OG 55/01, 58/06, 16/07 and 20/07). The Act lays down clear criteria to be met in the appointment of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys. The State Attorney's Council abides by the provisions of the Act on the State Attorney's Office and goes ahead with an appointment procedure only after collecting all required information on the candidates' previous work that can provide a sound basis for making the appointment decision. The collected information contains opinions on the candidates given by the state attorneys’ offices where the candidates are employed, the board of state attorneys’ offices and a senior state attorney.

An interview is conducted with each candidate at the state attorney's office where the candidate seeks a position. The State Attorney's Council may also call the candidate for an interview. For each candidate, a security screen is performed and data on his or her work record are collected. If a candidate comes from the state attorney's system, a review of his or her previous work is required, one not confined to pure statistics, but based on a direct insight into the cases he or she has worked on. Reports on all this are filed and submitted to the State Attorney's Council.

Reviews are likewise done every two years at all state attorneys’ offices by the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia. On these occasions, too, notes of the work of candidates are made and are to be taken into account when opinions are given on individual candidates.

In the latest amendments to the Act on the State Attorney's Office, special emphasis is placed on the need for quality evaluation of the work of state attorneys. Now all the segments of the work of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys are examined. In April 2007, the Instructions for Assessing the Work of Officials in the State Attorney's Office was adopted and has been applied since 1 September 2007. Furthermore, the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia has adopted new Rules of Procedure on Internal Operations of State Attorneys’ Offices where the monitoring of the work of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys and the security aspects of the work of state attorneys’ offices in terms of data secrecy and security screening of candidates are specially regulated. The result of such a meticulous approach to the evaluation of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys is an assessment that covers all the aspects of the work of state attorneys or their deputies, and the extent of the success or failure of their work.

That is why this final result, the assessment of previous work, has special importance in the process of appointment, because the provision of Article 64, paragraph 2 of the Act on the State Attorney's Office clearly states that "with all other equal requirements satisfied, preference in the appointment decision shall still be given to candidates who in the last two evaluations scored better". The importance of the received evaluation is illustrated by the fact that a state attorney or deputy state attorney who at the last evaluation was not favourably evaluated (as specified in Article 67, paragraph 1, item 3 of the Act on the State Attorney's Office) cannot be eligible for promotion or appointment at a higher state attorney's office. Such an approach to the candidate’s work record, based on the transparent and elaborate criteria to be met in the process of evaluating state attorneys or deputy state attorneys, allows for an objective insight to be gained into the real merits of a candidate.

In the implementation of the Action Plan, an analysis was made of the provisions relating to the immunity of judges in order to re-evaluate the compliance of such provisions with the usual solutions in EU Member States. Immunity above all means that a judge or an assistant judge may not be held accountable, detained or punished for an opinion voiced or for a vote cast in making a court decision, except in the event of a violation of the law which represents a criminal offence (Article 121, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and Article 8, paragraph 2 of the Courts Act). In addition to this general prohibition to conduct criminal proceedings against a judge for an opinion voiced in making a court decision, judges may also not be detained and criminal charges may not be filed against them without the approval of the SJC. An exception to the general provision that a judge may not be detained without the approval of the SJC is provided for in Article 8, paragraph 4 of the Courts Act, under which a judge may be detained even without the approval of the SJC if caught committing a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for a duration longer than five years. In that case, the president of the SJC must be notified. It needs to be pointed out that the meaning of the word "detained" is not only to order detention, but also includes deprivation of liberty on account of the criminal offence committed, including arrest by the police and the custody ordered by the investigating judge against the arrested. The criminal offences of corruption which are under law punishable by imprisonment longer than five years are the following: receiving a bribe under Article 347, paragraph 1of the Criminal Code, abuse of position and power under Article 337, paragraphs 1 and 4 of the Criminal Code, and embezzlement under Article 345, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the Criminal Code.

When an authorised plaintiff files an application with the SJC to obtain approval for the initiation of criminal proceedings against a judge, the plaintiff must submit to the SJC a proposal of the indictment with all the evidence on which the indictment is based and from which it is evident that there is reasonable suspicion that the judge in question committed the criminal offence concerned. Where approval for the initiation of criminal proceedings is requested by an injured party as a subsidiary plaintiff, because this party holds that the judge who made the decision in the case in which he/she was a party had committed a criminal offence prosecuted in the line of duty, approval for the initiation of criminal proceedings is usually not issued, because such requests are submitted by natural persons after their reports were dismissed as unfounded by the state attorney. The immunity of judges, the scope of such immunity, and its content are identical to the scope and content of immunity of representatives in the Croatian Parliament, as regulated by Article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, so the legislative and judicial branches are equal in this segment.

Regarding the immunity of state attorneys (Article 7 of the Act on the State Attorney's Office), a state attorney may not be held accountable, arrested or detained, or punished for a legal opinion voiced in a case delegated to him. A state attorney may not be detained without approval by the State Attorney's Council in proceedings instituted on account of a criminal offence committed in the performance of the duties of a state attorney. The Croatian Parliament makes the decision on the detention of the State Attorney General.

In proceedings against judges and state attorneys, all pre-investigative actions conducted by the police may be conducted without any restrictions and without prior permission by any authority. When criminal proceedings against a judge or state attorney are instituted, the proceedings must be conducted according to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act in the same way as towards any other citizen of the Republic of Croatia. The institute of immunity of judges and state attorneys laid down by the Croatian Constitution, the Courts Act and the Act on the State Attorney's Office does not exist to ensure that judges and state attorneys are regarded to be above law, but to protect the independence and impartiality of judges and state attorneys. This means that the institute of immunity is not the privilege of a judge or a state attorney, because they cannot waive that right. The institute also exists to enable the judiciary to function normally (so-called functional immunity) and because courts (especially those with fewer judges) might become completely blocked by parties or by the executive branch if it were possible to institute criminal proceedings without approval given by the competent body (the State Judiciary Council or the State Attorney's Council) that appoints judges/state attorneys or decides on their disciplinary accountability.

In practice to date, the State Judiciary Council refused to approve the institution of criminal proceedings when the approval was requested by the state attorney in only one case (in which the abolition of immunity was demanded against two judges, one first-instance, and the other second-instance). This indicates that the SJC approved criminal proceedings against judges when the request was made by a state attorney, because the State Attorney's Office, as an independent and autonomous body, institutes criminal proceedings in the line of duty whenever there is reasonable suspicion that a particular criminal offence was committed, even when the person suspected of such a criminal offence is a judge or a state attorney.

Currently, the view is held that the described immunity system is functioning in a satisfactory manner. However, since this issue has been addressed in some documents of the European Commission, the Ministry of Justice will carefully follow up the matter and, if deficiencies are detected, any necessary changes will be made.

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required (HRK)

Transparent and objective procedure for the appointment of judges

1

Analysis of the possibilities for further improvements in the work of Councils of Judges and the SJC in the process of appointing judges

MJ
SJC
SCRC

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

2

Analysis of the five-year probation period for judges

MJ
SJC
SCRC

IV quarter 2009

Additional funds not required

3

Adoption of the Amendments to the Courts Act with the aim of prescribing the obligation to adopt the Rules of Procedure for the Work of Councils of Judges in the Process of Appointing Judges by the Council consisting of the presidents of all councils of judges within the meaning of Article 81 of the Courts Act

MJ

II quarter 2008

40,000

4

Adoption of Guidelines for the Appointment of Judges and their Career Promotion

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

5

In the Rules of Procedure for the Work of the Councils of Judges, defining objective, uniform and transparent criteria and setting the obligation to conduct compulsory interviews with all candidates in the process of appointing judges

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

6

Analysis of the implementation of the Methodology for the Assessment of Judges’ Performance

SCRC

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

7

Analysis of the implementation of the Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

Transparent and objective procedure for the appointment of judicial trainees

8

Revision of the procedures for the appointment of judicial trainees through the adoption of the new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodies and the Judicial Exam

MJ

Adoption by the Government II quarter 2008

40,000

9

Adopting a special Ordinance on the selection of court trainees with uniform and objective criteria

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

Transparent and objective procedure for the appointment of court advisors

10

Setting up a uniform knowledge test with uniform and objective criteria for the selection of court advisors

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

11

Making of an analysis of the system of recruiting trainees, court advisors and judges

Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

Transparent and objective procedure for the appointment of state attorneys

12

Analysis of the influence of the existing composition of the State Attorney's Council on the independence of the State Attorney's Office

SAO
MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

III IMPARTIALITY OF THE JUDICIARY

In the Strategy, the principle of impartiality requires that the organisational and legislative frameworks are in place in a way to prevent any influence on the judiciary. Along with the independence and autonomy of the judiciary, impartiality is the third key principle of the rule of law. Although trust in the judiciary primarily depends on judges themselves, it can be achieved only if they perform their judicial duties impartially. In the implementation of the Action Plan, impartiality of the judiciary is covered by several measures aimed at raising the standards of ethics for judges and state attorneys and reducing the impact of outside influences on the judiciary. Three measures from the previous AP were implemented, specifically: Measure No. 2 - Including issues related to "professional ethics" and responsibility in training programmes for judicial officials and other judicial staff; Measure No. 70 - Determining and monitoring officials’ assets; and Measure No. 71 - Introduction of vetting of judges, state attorneys and candidates for these posts.

As part of the implementation of Measure No. 2, materials were made which deal with the issue of professional ethics and responsibility of judicial officials. The materials form part of the regular training programme. With a view to determining and monitoring the assets of judicial officials (Measure No. 70), all judges and state attorneys are obliged to submit declarations of their assets to the Ministry of Justice. The foregoing was implemented through legislative amendments to the Courts Act (OG 150/05, 16/07) and the Act on the State Attorney's Office (OG 16/07). Furthermore, the Ordinance on the manner of handling declarations of the assets of judges, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys (OG 24/07) was adopted to define clear criteria for monitoring the assets of judicial officials. The Ordinance lays down the form and content of declarations of assets. The form shows that the declaration must include data on real estate (land, houses, holiday homes, apartments), movables (such as vehicles, vessels and other valuable movables), shares in companies or investment funds, the amount of savings, the amount of regular monthly income, the amount of income based on membership in supervisory or management boards, receipts arising from temporary service contracts, author's fees and the like. The measure has been implemented and the Ministry of Justice performs it regularly. Once the declarations are submitted, checks are made to see whether they meet the formal criteria. If this is not the case, a correction is immediately requested. If the correction is not received or if the repeated report again fails to meet the formal criteria, the judicial official in question may not receive their salary until the irregularity is removed. The declaration of assets is a public document and will be published on the Ministry of Justice’s website by the end of 2008 (Measure No. 13). If an objection to a declaration of assets is filed by any person claiming that an official has provided false information in his/her declaration of assets, and if there are grounds for suspicion related to such a claim, the Ministry of Justice has to verify this claim. The false declaration of assets represents a breach of the Code of Ethics and constitutes a legal ground for initiating disciplinary proceedings by the Minister of Justice. Article 20, paragraph 2, item 6 of the Act on the State Judiciary Council stipulates as one of the disciplinary offences the causing of harm to the reputation of the court or judicial duty, so in connection with the said Article other provisions of the Act provide for the obligation of persons obligated and authorised to initiate a disciplinary procedure to determine the accuracy, completeness and updatedness of the data in the declarations of assets. Namely, whenever a judge submits inaccurate or incomplete data or fails to keep his/her declaration up to date in line with the stipulated obligation, he/she causes harm to the reputation of his/her judicial duty by failing to comply with the valid regulations. As all judges have fulfilled their obligation to submit declarations of assets, there was no reason to apply sanctions in the form of denial of salary, while in conduct to date there have been no cases where it was determined that the reports of judges on their assets were manifestly contrary to the law, so the Ministry of Justice has not taken any specific actions in terms of sanctions so far. The system of submitting declarations of assets will be closely monitored and upgraded. With that objective in mind, this AP foresees that the Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy should evaluate the functioning of the current system (Measure No. 14). In addition, the AP foresees amendments to the Ordinance on the manner of handling declarations of the assets of judges, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys to further regulate the handling of declarations of assets and to check the accuracy of the data included (Measure No. 14b). The amendments to the Ordinance will serve to authorise the Ministry of Justice to check the accuracy of the data submitted with the competent institutions that keep relevant registers (such as the Ministry of the Interior, the Tax Administration, the land registry, and the Central Depository Agency). In the event of any doubts as to the existence of a criminal offence, the Ministry of Justice will be obliged to notify the State Attorney's Office so that it can undertake certain enquiries within its competences.

A Code of Ethics for Judges was adopted in October 2006. In the event of violation of the code, there are two possible outcomes, depending on the type of violation: the initiation of proceedings on account of the violation of the Code of Ethics for Judges before a Council of Judges, or the initiation of a disciplinary proceeding before the State Judiciary Council. By nature, every disciplinary violation in itself represents a violation of a certain provision of the Code. However, not every violation of the Code necessarily constitutes a disciplinary violation.

Item 14 of the Code regulates the procedure in the event of its violation. It states that every judge is obliged to abide by the Code. Everyone has the right to report any action of the judge which is contrary to the provisions of the Code. The president of the Council of Judges of the court at which the judge in question performs his/her duties will then present claim to the Council of Judges. The Council will allow the judge to present his/her position on the claim. If the Council of Judges establishes grounds for the claim, it will pass a decision establishing a violation of the Code. An appeal against the Council decision may be submitted within eight days of the receipt of the decision. The appeal is ruled on by the Council presidents of all the Councils of Judges in the Republic of Croatia by a majority vote. A valid decision is submitted to the president of the court at which the judge in question performs his function.

Pursuant to the provision of item 14 of the Code, a violation of ethical principles of a judge may be ruled on by the Councils of Judges, i.e. the judges themselves, without any further complicated disciplinary proceedings before the State Judiciary Council. In addition, every citizen has the right to directly initiate this proceeding. A violation established by a valid decision of the Council of Judges affects the evaluation of the performance of the judicial function of the judge, which is taken into account if the judge is to be promoted or appointed to a permanent term or for the position of president of the court.

In the event of a violation of the Code which is not a disciplinary offence, a violation of the Code is entered into the judge's file and the president of the court is informed thereof. The consequence is that the judge is given negative points and has reduced chances of promotion. From the entry into force of the Code, ten proceedings have been initiated for violations of the Code of Ethics for Judges before the councils of judges of county courts. Of that number, five proceedings are still pending, in two cases no breaches of the Code were established, and in two cases the proceedings were terminated due to the decisions of the presidents of the courts not to adhere to the proposals which initiated the proceedings. A breach of the Code was found only in one case and the judge was reprimanded.

Considering that citizens are insufficiently acquainted with the opportunity to initiate proceedings on account of a violation of the Code of Ethics for Judges, it is planned to conduct a campaign to raise public awareness of the said Code, its provisions and the possibility to initiate proceedings on account of its violation (e.g. a poster campaign in court houses). This is included in the new Measure 17. In addition, with a view to the continuous monitoring of adherence to the provisions of the Code, an annual report on the subject will be drafted (new Measure No. 16).

Serious violations of the Code of Ethics for Judges may result in the commission of a disciplinary offence. From the entry into force of the Code (26 October 2006) until 10 March 2008, twenty-three (23) disciplinary proceedings were initiated before the State Judiciary Council for serious violations of judicial duty which are also regarded as violations of the Code of Ethics for Judges.

The new Code of Ethics for State Attorneys and Deputy State Attorneys was adopted on 5 February 2008 and entered into force on the date of its adoption. Thus, along with the existing Code of Ethics for Attorneys and the Code of Ethics for Civil Servants, a whole system of codes of ethics in the judiciary has been set up. With a view to the continuous monitoring of adherence to the provisions of the Code, an annual report on the subject will be drafted (new Measure No. 22). The State Attorney’s Council has conducted disciplinary proceedings against deputy state attorneys when justified reasons have existed for such an action. In the great majority of cases, the proceedings resulted in disciplinary sanctions. Consistent application of the provisions on disciplinary accountability has helped create clear-cut criteria concerning the responsibility of deputy state attorneys for serious violations. As a rule, whenever it is established that a particular deputy state attorney does not duly and satisfactorily perform his/her obligations, and after he/she is notified of the standpoints of the State Attorney’s Council, such officials hand in their resignations on their own.

In addition, in the field of professional ethics and the professional duties and responsibilities of judicial officials (judges and state attorneys), the Judicial Academy has developed special educational activities and new modules used at a number of workshops and seminars. The workshops and seminars are held in all the Judicial Academy's Regional Centres, and great interest has been shown in them. It is planned to continue organising educational activities in the form of workshops as the most effective form of educational activities concerning the problem of corruption as a phenomenon contrary to the rules laid down both in the Code of Ethics for Judges and the Code of Ethics for State Attorneys and Deputy State Attorneys. The workshops should include all judges, state attorneys and court advisors (Measure No. 21).

Measure No. 71 - Introduction of vetting of judges, state attorneys and candidates for these posts was implemented in relation to state attorneys pursuant to the Act on Amendments to the State Attorney's Office Act (OG 16/07). It is now laid down that the State Attorney General of the Republic of Croatia must request candidates to provide a written statement that they agree to be vetted as stipulated in a special regulation. This provision of the Act is used in practice. At the time of appointment, candidates are requested to provide a statement of consent, which is followed by vetting. Data on the results of vetting are an official secret and may be used only and exclusively in the appointment procedure of state attorneys. Candidates are entitled to know the results, as prescribed by special regulations which lay down the procedure for making checks. Vetting had to be introduced in view of the duties of the State Attorney's Office in the pre-criminal procedure and because of the possibility of data disclosure.

As one of the new measures, it is necessary to point out the monitoring of cases relating to the criminal offences of corruption and other criminal offences within the competence of USKOK, the application of which will begin from 1 April 2008 (new Measure No. 18). Each county and municipal court will monitor the resolving of individual cases and report to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia every three months. In addition, the Court Rules of Procedure will be amended in order to define priorities in prosecuting criminal acts of corruption (new Measure No. 19). Measure No. 20 (formerly No. 68) envisages the random allocation of cases with the help of IT technology. This manner of allocating cases will ensure better control of the movement of files and reduce the possibility of corruption.

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time period

Funds required

Strengthening the impartiality and professionalism of the judiciary
 
 

13

Publication of the declaration of assets of judges and public prosecutors on the Ministry of Justice’s website

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

14

Assessing the functioning of the current asset declaration system

Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Judicial Reform Strategy

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

14b

Amendments to the Ordinance on the manner of handling declarations of the assets of judges, state attorneys and deputy state attorneys

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

15
(formerly 67)

Education and training of judges and state attorneys on corruption and on ethics

MJ (JA)

Continuous

2008 amount 150,000

16

Making an annual report on compliance with the Code of Ethics for Judges

Competent court authorities

2008

Additional funds not required

17

Launching a campaign to raise public awareness of the Code of Ethics for Judges

MJ

IV quarter 2008

150,000

18

Commencement of systematic monitoring of cases relating to the criminal offences of corruption and other criminal offences within the competence of USKOK

SCRC
USKOK

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

19

Adoption of the Amendments to the Rules of Procedure in order to define the criminal offences of corruption as a priority type of case

MJ

III quarter 2008

40,000

20
(formerly 68)

Introduction of random IT-supported allocation of cases (as part of the introduction of ICMS)

MJ

2008 - 2010

Funds foreseen in Measure No. 99

Strengthening the impartiality and professionalism of the State Attorney's Office

21
(rev. 3)

Education on judicial ethics and professional duties immediately on taking office and in the course of the term of office

MJ
(JA)

Continuous

50,000 p. a.

22

Making an annual report on compliance with the Code of Ethics for State Attorneys and Deputy State Attorneys

SAO

2009

Additional funds not required

IV PROFESSIONALISM AND EXPERTISE IN THE JUDICIARY

Lifelong professional development, i.e. judicial training, is at the very heart of the judicial reform. Training is a widely accepted as a vehicle for judicial development and a mechanism for improving judicial practices in general. The objective of judicial training is to help produce and support an independent, professional and efficient judiciary. Successful judicial reform is based on the skills and the change of attitude that judicial training imparts. A lot has been done in this field, but there is still room for improvement. Since the establishment of the Judicial Academy in 2004, as the most important mechanism to achieve the said goal, there is visible and strong development of training in Croatia, which has become part of the rights and duties of every judge and state attorney. Training, in the form of various training models (workshops, seminars, round tables) which demand a proactive approach from the participants, focuses on the current challenges as well as those relating to the alignment of national regulations with the acquis communautaire. Ad hoc activities have also commenced to improve language (foreign languages) and computer skills. The Judicial Academy is part of the Lisbon Network of the Council of Europe and an observer in the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN). Co-operation with organisations and institutions which provide similar services, especially those in EU Member States, and with law schools, is also being developed.

Judicial Academy Statistics

 

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS

NUMBER OF ACTIVITIES

2004

511

25

2005

2,118

121

2006

2,881

120

2007

3,794

180

TOTAL

9,304

446

On the one hand, measures in the Action Plan have until now been aimed at the institutional strengthening of the Academy itself, and on the other hand at training programmes. In relation to the institutional strengthening of the Judicial Academy, the following measures from the previous AP have been completed: Measure No. 53 - To establish three regional training centres of the Judicial Academy (five regional centres established so far with the County Courts in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and Varaždin); Measure No. 57 (revised Measure No. 29) - To Create a database of lecturers and participants of the Judicial Academy; and Measure No. 60 - To establish the Judicial Academy’s library, and libraries at regional centres. As a result of the said measures, five regional centres of the Judicial Academy were formed, while a database in the Access Programme was developed and opened (it is updated weekly and upgraded if necessary, and it includes data on participants, lecturers and types of training activities in the Judicial Academy).

The second group of measures relates to the creation of training programmes. In the making of its training programmes, the Judicial Academy regularly analyses the educational needs of judicial officials and monitors changes in the Croatian legislation. Based on that, it plans training activities. The syllabuses and educational materials are made in co-operation with legal experts of various profiles, i.e. professors at law schools, judges and state attorneys with practical experience, and experts in teaching methods for adult education. Educational activities listed in the Calendar of Activities of the Judicial Academy are the result of the needs of the Academy's target groups, for the time being primarily judges and state attorneys. The following measures from the previous AP have been completed so far: Measure No. 1 - Raising awareness – Workshops; Measure No. 33 - Continue the “train-the-trainer” programme; Measure No. 54 - Definition of legal areas where the training of target groups is required (needs analysis which should also include re-organisation, that is, further specialisation of judicial bodies); Measure No. 58 - Improvement of communication with target groups through the creation of web pages of the Academy that will contain information on the planned activities of the Academy; Measure No. 59 - Informing the public about the activities of the Judicial Academy (information on the web, publishing of periodic brochures, news from the Academy etc.); and Measure No. 67 - Education and training of judges, state attorneys, on different forms of corruption and on ethics. As part of the implementation of the said measures, seminars were held for practitioners concerning the possibility of using procedural instruments (Measure No. 26, previous AP) – training of judges, court advisors, senior court advisors, judicial trainees, state attorneys and trainees in state attorneys’ offices concerning the effective use of procedural instruments (standard training), including appropriate court practice of the European Court of Human Rights. Legal areas in which the target groups need training were defined. Notifications of the activities of the Judicial Academy are regularly posted on the Academy's website at www.pak.hr. Whenever it launches new cycles of workshops, seminars and round tables, the Judicial Academy forwards notifications of such events to all the printed and electronic media in the Republic of Croatia.

It is important to point out that some of the said measures have grown into a permanent activity of the Judicial Academy since they relate to the basic nature of the job and tasks of the institutions in charge of professional development in the judiciary and, in line with those needs, they are continually upgraded and improved. The following measures deserve particular mention:

Measures included in the Action Plan needed to be revised in order to reflect the needs of the system which has gone past the first phase of institutional development where the system of lifelong professional development for judges and state attorneys was set up, where the Academy's institutional foundations were put in place, and where the corpora of the lifelong learning programmes were created.

An analysis of the JA showed that the organisation of its activities is becoming so complex that it was necessary to appoint a full-time director. For this reason, on 8 May 2008 the Croatian Government appointed a full-time director of the Judicial Academy. In addition, new employees will be recruited in accordance with the systematisation of positions. It is thus planned to recruit administrative staff in regional centres, a senior administrator, a head of the Research and Development Sector, a senior expert advisor and an expert adviser in the Research and Development Department, a head, an administrative advisor and an expert advisor in the Department for Training Plans and Programmes, and a senior IT administrator and an expert advisor in the Department for the Development of Training Material, Information and Documentation. Regional centres of the JA will continue to be developed. Within the framework of the project of the construction of Justice Square in Zagreb, appropriate facilities will be secured in the mid-term period as a permanent solution for the JA. These facilities must be adapted to the nature of the activities conducted at the JA (organisation of classes and professional training events), and must adequately meet the requirements of administrative capacity strengthening and further development of the JA, especially requirements pertaining to the pre-service training system.

Within the reform of the pre-service training system, in 2008 a new Act on Trainees in Judicial Bodes and the Judicial Exam will be passed. Other regulations governing matters relating to trainees and court advisors will be amended subsequently. At the same time, training programmes intended for these target groups will be developed, which will ensure that all future judges/state attorneys acquire a standard set of skills and knowledge. The proposal of the reform of the traineeship system in the Republic of Croatia is based on the following principles: pre-service training should be practice-oriented to the maximum extent and should take place at courts or state attorneys’ offices where trainees would be assigned mentors, and it should be combined with the provision of any necessary theoretical training. During their practical training, court trainees should spend a certain amount of time in a state attorney's office and vice versa. Traineeship in judicial bodies and preparation for the judicial exam will last two years. The training will be conducted according to a uniform system model, which means that trainees will conduct their practical training in judicial and other bodies (e.g. an attorney’s or public notary’s office) and concurrently receive theoretical training at the Judicial Academy. This system is practice-oriented and flexible, and it combines specialist and general training, and helps trainees choose their area of interest at an early stage.

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required

Further institutional strengthening of the Judicial Academy

23

Development of regional centres of the Judicial Academy

    - Recruiting administrators in all regional centres (4 employees)
    - Putting libraries in the Regional Centres of the Judicial Academy in Zagreb, Split, Osijek and Varaždin in full function;
    - Obtaining IT equipment and literature for the Regional Centre of the Judicial Academy in Varaždin;
    - Increasing the library fund in the Judicial Academy and in the regional centres

JA
MJ

2009

1,040,000

24

Developing a multiannual strategy of development of the JA in co-operation between AC and JA

JA

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

25

Strengthening the institutional mechanisms of co-operation between representatives of the judiciary and JA through the Advisory Council and the Programme Council of the Judicial Academy

JA
SCRC
SAO

Continuous

Additional funds not required

26

Drafting Rules of Procedure of the Advisory Council and the Programme Council of the Judicial Academy

JA
SCRC
SAO

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

27

Adoption of the Ordinance on access to professional development

JA
SCRC
SAO
SJC
SAO

2008

20,000

28

Improving the current website of the JA

JA
MJ

2009

50,000

29
(rev. 57)

Further development of the databases of lecturers and attendees of JA

JA
MJ

Continuous

Additional funds not required

30

Introduction of electronic case management in the JA
Introduction of all modules contained in the CENTRIX programme and training the JA's staff concerning application

JA
MJ

2009

20,000

31
(rev. 61)

Continuation of co-operation development with other organisations and institutions providing similar services and to strengthen the JA's international co-operation

JA

Continuous

100,000 p. a.

32
(rev. 62)

    Proceeding with co-operation with scientific institutions, especially law schools

JA

Continuous

50,000

To strengthen the JA's human resources

33

Revision of the systematisation of work posts and to recruit further staff in the JA (9 employees)

JA
MJ

2008

974,000 p.a.

33a

Drawing up the module for initial professional training

JA

IV quarter
2008

180,000

33b

Selecting and training mentors and future lecturers concerning the theoretical part of the curriculum within the framework of initial professional training to be organised within the JA

JA and
JA Regional Centres

IV quarter
2008

60,000

33c

Training mentors for judicial and state attorney trainees

JA and
JA Regional Centres

I quarter
2009

350,000

33d

Implementing the pilot project "Support to JA: Developing the System of Professional Training for Future Judges and State Attorneys" with a group of newly-selected trainees based on the developed module

JA and
JA Regional Centres

2009

1,000,000

33e

Continued implementation of initial professional training in accordance with the new Act on Trainees and the Bar Exam and the developed training module

JA and
JA Regional Centres

As of 2010

3,500,000

Development of training programmes

34
(rev. 27)

Proceeding with the systematic training of judicial officials concerning the effective use of procedural instruments (standard training)

JA

Continuous

200,000

35

Development of the programme of continuous training for first-time judges for the duration of 6 (or 3) months

JA
AC and PC

2009

Additional funds not required

36

Creating a module on the acquis communautaire

JA

IV quarter 2008

40,000

37
(rev. 41)

Professional training on the acquis communautaire

JA

Continuous

100,000 p. a.

38

Professional training on human rights and court practice of international courts (including the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms)

JA

Continuous

50,000

 

39
(rev. 33)

Proceeding with the programmes of professional training of those involved in the 'train-the-trainer' programme and further improving the programmes

JA

Continuous

100,000 p. a.

 

40
(rev. 75)

Preparation of a needs analysis to organise advanced/specialised foreign language courses and strategic decisions on the method of implementing foreign language learning for judicial officials

JA

2008

Additional funds not required

41

Launching the implementation of foreign language courses for judges and state attorneys

JA

2009

100,000 p. a.

42

Development and implementation of programmes of training for the court administration and for the management of state attorneys’ offices

JA
SCRC
SAO

2009

75,000 p. a.

43
(rev. 34)

Training and improvement of language skills of judges and state attorneys

JA

Continuous

50,000

44
(rev. 78)

Training spokespersons of courts and state attorneys’ offices in public relations skills

JA

Continuous

50,000 p. a.

45
(rev. 93)

Comprehensive IT training for judicial officials

MJ

Continuous

1,300.000

V EFFICIENCY OF THE JUDICIARY

The efficiency of the judiciary has certainly been one of the most improved areas recently, but this is also an area where most extensive changes are necessary. With a view to raising the efficiency of the Croatian judiciary, this Action Plan defines numerous measures aimed at improving the institutional capacity for the implementation of the judicial reform, reducing the backlog, shortening the duration of court proceedings, improving the organisation of the judicial system, and ensuring the required infrastructure and equipment. In addition, the Action Plan foresees measures aimed at making case law more uniform, expanding alternative dispute resolution methods, strengthening judicial inspection, and improving the system of communication with the public. In terms of raising the efficiency of the judiciary, one of the basic measures, which is clearly related to many others, is rationalising the network of courts.

In relation to the judicial reform measures performed to date, it is particularly important to point out that a programme to rationalise the network of courts was devised by the Ministry of Justice. This should ensure better efficiency and the use and specialisation of judges in specific legal fields. The number of unresolved cases has been reduced by delegating cases to courts with a lighter workload and through the efficient use of court advisors. A significant decrease in the number of execution cases is also due to the delegation of execution decisions based on authentic documents to public notaries. The introduction of mediation, as a method of alternative dispute resolution at commercial and some municipal courts, was a great step in alleviating the workload of the said courts, which is a stimulus for the further development of out-of-court mediation. Regular and effective supervision of court administration by the Ministry of Justice is one of the preconditions for boosting efficiency. Such supervision should continue.

After the Ministry of Justice completed the statistics on the work of courts in early 2005, it became evident that on 31 December 2004 the courts had a total of 1,640,365 unresolved cases. An analysis of the structure of these cases showed that a large number were so-called non-contentious cases, i.e. cases which do not require a lengthy resolution process, because they generally do not need extensive evidence procedures or the making of decisions on parties' adversarial claims (such as land registry cases, which accounted for 19% of unresolved cases, and execution cases, which accounted for 32%). After the unfavourable review of the work of courts, it became clear that it was essential to take a number of measures to reduce the large number of unresolved cases.

All the measures to achieve greater efficiency in the operation of courts, those both foreseen and not foreseen in the Action Plan, of which the most important are mentioned further in the text, have resulted each year in a decreasing trend in the total number of unresolved cases. On 31 December 2004, the total number of unresolved cases in Croatian courts was 1,640,365, on 31 December 2005, it was 1,501,251, while on 31 December 2006, it was 1,032,305. Since on 31 January 2007 the total number of unresolved cases in Croatian courts was 969,100, it follows that the number of unresolved cases in relation to 31 December 2004, therefore over a three-year period, was reduced by 40.92%. With regard to the decreasing trend of case inflow and taking into account the average annual inflow of cases to courts in the last 5 years (in the period 2003-2007, the average annual inflow was approx. 900,000 cases), we estimate that an acceptable level of pending cases would be approx. 600,000 cases, excluding misdemeanour courts. This is a level that will enable the system to resolve more cases than it receives and at the same time it will be able to focus on resolving cases older than 3 years. Finally, this level of pending cases will enable the resolution of all cases within a reasonable period of 3 years.

   

Unresolved cases 2004 – 2007

   

COURTS

   U N R E S O L V E D

 

31/12/2004

31/12/2007

 %

 

MUNICIPAL COURTS

1,167,799

478,450

-59.03

 

COUNTY COURTS

52,711

55,646

5.57

 

COMMERCIAL COURTS

41,077

24,204

-41.08

 

HIGH COMMERCIAL COURT

11,849

10,973

-7.39

 

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

41,834

38,420

-8.16

 

SUPREME COURT

2,813

2,491

-11.45

 

T O T A L:

1,318,083

610,184

-53.71

 
         
   

MISDEMEANOURS

   

CASES

  U N R E S O L V E D

 

31/12/2004

31/12/2007

 %

 

MISDEMEANOUR COURTS

245,343

259,993

5.97

 

HIGH MISDEMEANOUR (2ND INSTANCE) COURT

76,939

98,923

28.57

 

T O T A L:

322,282

358,916

11.37

 

 

 

 

 

 
         

CASES

  U N R E S O L V E D

 

31/12/2004

31/12/2007

 %

 

ALL COURTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

1,640,365

969,100

-40.92

 

It is necessary to point out that an increase in the number of unresolved cases at county courts is caused by more extensive work on old cases at municipal courts, resulting in a greater number of appeals. In second-instance appellate proceedings in the criminal branch, the work of county courts is up to date and there are no backlogs. Therefore, in 2006, a total of 11,616 cases were received, 11,022 were resolved and 3,348 remained unresolved. In 2007, a total of 13,008 cases were received, 11,636 were resolved and 4,378 remain pending. Statistics show that there is an increase in the number of incoming cases, but it must be mentioned that they are not old cases.

After the causes of inefficiency in the Croatian judiciary were analysed, it was concluded that in view of the diversity and complexity of the causes, the problem could not be solved over a short period of time. Furthermore, it became evident that the issue would have to be addressed strategically by defining segments of action within which specific measures would need to be taken to ensure greater efficiency of the judiciary. The Judicial Reform Strategy, which was adopted in 2005, defines as such segments the implementation of structural changes in the form of re-organisation and rationalisation of the network of courts, the reduction of the backlog, the rational use of the expensive court system, i.e. disburdening the workload of courts of cases which are not by their nature court cases, actualising and strengthening alternative dispute resolution methods, shortening the duration of court proceedings, modernising court administration and ensuring more efficient supervision of court administration, unifying case law, and developing the system of free legal aid. All of the said segments laid down in the Action Plan of the Judicial Reform Strategy, which was also adopted in 2005, foresaw measures which ought to be taken to achieve specific strategic goals, some of which have been completed, some of which are still being implemented, while some were abandoned, because, from the current perspective, it was concluded that their implementation would not achieve the foreseen goals, i.e. that the goal had already been achieved, or would be achieved, through other measures.

Concerning measures foreseen in the previous AP regarding rationalisation of the network of courts, some have been completed (Nos. 6 and 7 from the previous AP). In May 2005, based on a decision of the Minister of Justice, municipal and misdemeanour courts in eight towns were merged. After an analysis of the effects of the mergers, the working group in charge of making a proposal on the rationalisation of the network of courts concluded that the said approach to rationalisation would not achieve all the benefits anticipated in terms of specialisation of judges and organisation of on-duty services, the better functioning of courts at times of holidays and annual leave, and the like. In other words, the conclusion was reached that the rationalisation must be performed by merging courts of the same type. Based on the said proposal of the working group, in March 2007 the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted the Conclusion stating that the rationalisation would be performed by merging courts of the same type, in line with the criteria laid down by the working group which should be applied consistently. With a view to implementing the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Justice drafted the new Act on the Jurisdictions and Seats of Courts, which stipulates the termination of the activity of 41 municipal courts out of the existing 108 municipal courts. The proposal of the Act is under parliamentary procedure. The provisions on rationalisation will enter into force on 01 January 2009. At that moment, there will be 67 municipal courts in the Republic of Croatia and new court presidents will be appointed. Some of the terminated courts will continue to function as branch offices of the courts to which they have been merged until their physical transfer becomes possible. The judges and the administrative and technical staff of the terminated courts will become employees of the courts to which their court has merged. The merged courts will function as one court. After the adoption of the new Act on the Jurisdictions and Seats of Courts, the adoption of the Ordinance on the dynamics of the physical merger of municipal courts will follow (Measure No. 79).

The merging process should extend over a 15-year period: in the short-term period of 5 years, mergers requiring less funds for the expansion of existing buildings; in the mid-term period of 10 years, mergers requiring greater investments and the construction of annexes to the existing court buildings; and in the long-term period of 15 years, mergers requiring the construction of new court buildings. The criteria taken into consideration for the merging of municipal courts are the cases received during a single calendar year and the required number of judges in accordance with the framework criteria (for a minimum of 5 judges), the population, the distance from the closest court (50 km), with exceptions such as the geographical particularity of courts located on islands. Furthermore, additional criteria were taken into account, such as the total number of resolved and pending cases in a court, the number of resolved cases by individual judges, an assessment of the inflow of cases, an assessment of the resolution of old cases, and the ratio of judges and other employees in a court to the inflow of cases and the impact on the promptness of a court.

Regarding misdemeanour courts, the proposed rationalisation of the network of misdemeanour courts will be finalised at the latest by the beginning of September 2008 when the end of the project entitled Improving the Work of the High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia and Select Misdemeanour Courts is scheduled. The proposal from this Project will be the basis for drafting the new Act on the Jurisdictions and Seats of Misdemeanour Courts. After the adoption of the new Act, it will be necessary to adopt the Ordinance on the dynamics of the physical merger of misdemeanour courts (Measure No. 82). It is envisaged that the rationalisation of this network will to a great extent follow the model of rationalisation of municipal courts. After the implementation of the rationalisation of municipal courts has begun, and after the initial effects of the rationalisation process of the network of courts of first instance have been analysed, any changes to terminate the activity of individual county courts will be considered. As regards county and commercial courts, since they are relatively few in number, it is not foreseeable that their rationalisation would achieve visible results in the judicial reform. Therefore, a decision on a possible rationalisation of the network of county and commercial courts will ensue after the initial effects of the rationalisation of the municipal and misdemeanour court networks have been analysed. A proposal for the rationalisation of the network of state attorneys’ offices will follow the rationalisation of the network of courts, since the territorial jurisdiction of state attorneys’ offices corresponds to the territorial jurisdiction of the courts. Accordingly, it will be necessary to amend the Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of State Attorney’s Offices. The foregoing is covered by Measure Nos. 8, 9 and 10 from the previous AP, that is, Measure Nos. 78-83 and 86 of the revised AP.

The objectives of the rationalisation of the network of courts in Croatia are to achieve a more balanced caseload for judges and court staff, the more rapid resolution of the backlog of cases, and the adoption of court decisions within a reasonable period of time. Other objectives include achieving a better work organisation, the opportunity for specialisation of judges, greater flexibility in the work of judges, court staff and in court management, and ensuring a uniform case law. The ultimate objective is an efficient, modern and rational judiciary.

The proposal of the amendments to the Regulation on the internal organisation of the Ministry of Justice with regard to the Sector of Human Resources in Judicial Bodies envisages the establishment of a new department: the Department for the Rationalisation of the Network of Courts and State Attorney’s Offices. The scope of work of the Department would include the drafting of regulations essential for the implementation of rationalisation, and identifying and meeting the organisational and personnel preconditions for the closure of individual courts and state attorneys’ offices and their merging with other courts and state attorneys’ offices. The new Department is envisaged to recruit 5 employees (Head of Department and 4 advisers).

With a view to achieving greater efficiency in the work of the judiciary in the segment of re-organising the network of courts, one measure was taken which was not foreseen in the Action Plan, but which proved essential to improve the efficiency of first-instance proceedings in Zagreb. Namely, based on a decision of the Minister of Justice dated 1 October 2007, after all conditions concerning accommodation, human resources and the like were met, the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb and the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb began to work. The decision on restructuring the Municipal Court in Zagreb into two courts was adopted, because that court, since it has the largest number of incoming cases in the country, and the greatest number of staff, could no longer function in a satisfactory manner without such restructuring. Given that it was concluded that the restructuring showed good results, the beginning of work of the Municipal Civil Court in Novi Zagreb is planned (new Measure No. 85) with a view to further disburdening the workload of the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb, which still has an excessive workload to be able to promptly deal with cases and to be managed efficiently.

In view of reducing the number of unresolved cases and disburdening the workload by removing cases which are not court cases by nature, a number of measures foreseen in the Action Plan have been completed, while some are still being implemented. Certain measures which were not foreseen in the Plan were also undertaken. Namely, further to the fact that in the structure of unresolved cases there was a significant number which were land register and execution cases, special projects were launched, although they were not foreseen in the Action Plan, with a view to reducing the backlog and creating greater efficiency of courts in the said types of cases. The projects were entitled "Land Register Reform" and "Reducing the Number of Unresolved Execution Cases at Municipal Courts".

In the Land Register Reform Project, significant results have been achieved. The Project began in August 2004 with a view to resolving the backlog, digitalising manually-kept land registers, and creating the Land Register Database and having it published on the Internet. Concerning the backlog of land register cases, the number of such cases was reduced from 359,500 to 122,501 cases in the period from August 2004 to January 2008, thus over a period of three years and four months. A decrease of 65.92% was thus achieved. Regarding digitalisation of manually-kept land registers and verification of digitalised data, in the period from August 2004 to January 2008, 98.19% of land register files were digitalised, and 40.46% of that number were verified. All data that was digitalised can now be searched online, while the verification of the data enables land registers to be kept electronically. Furthermore, with a view to alleviating the workload of judges in terms of resolving land register cases, implementation of Measure No. 20 from the previous AP concerning the continued authority of land register clerks to deal with land register cases on their own continues (now new Measure No. 72). So far, such authority has been granted to 232 clerks.

The Project for reducing the number of unresolved execution cases at municipal courts now includes monthly statistical monitoring of the work of courts in the said type of cases, uniform forms for court procedures in execution cases, training of execution judges and court bailiffs, overtime work. Courts also now have additional IT equipment. With a view to disburdening the workload of courts in execution cases, which are not real court cases, Measure No. 22 from the previous AP has been completed. This measure foresaw amendments to the Execution Act in terms of delegating powers in the adoption of execution decisions based on authentic documents from courts to public notaries. In this way, it was possible to achieve significant results in reducing the number of unresolved execution cases in courts. At the beginning of the implementation of the project on 1 October 2005, the number of unresolved execution cases at municipal courts stood at 599,334 while on 31 December 2007 the figure was 107,765, meaning that in two years and three months of the project the number of unresolved execution cases at municipal courts had dropped by 82%. In March 2008, the working group for the drafting of new amendments to the Execution Act was established, since, despite the already adopted amendments, the Act still requires further amendments on account of the lengthiness of the enforcement of execution decisions. Other amendments are also required to achieve the further shortening of execution proceedings. The Act on Amendments to the Execution Act was adopted 30 May 2008.

With a view to achieving greater efficiency of courts in resolving execution cases, Measure No. 21 from the previous AP was also completed. The measure involved amendments to the Execution Act providing the possibility to entrust the sale of chattels seized in execution proceedings to a certified commission agent. All necessary subordinate legislation to enable the amendments to the Execution Act to be implemented has been adopted: the Ordinance on conditions for the performance of duties of certified commission agents; the Ordinance on the tariff for compensation of costs and remuneration for the performance of the activity of certified commission agents; and the Ordinance on determining the amount of liability insurance for certified commission agents. With the aim of ensuring the most successful implementation of this measure and encouraging execution creditors to use new legal options, special attention will be paid to the promotion of certified commission agents in the form of a widespread public campaign and a special campaign aimed at execution creditors (new Measure No. 66).

As regards the inflow of cases at courts, according to the comparative tables of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), Croatia is average for Europe. The Ministry of _Justice will make an analysis of incoming cases in order to determine a sustainable inflow of case in IV quarter 2008 (measure No. 63). The data provided by the Statistics Section of the Ministry of Justice on the inflow of cases indicate a decreasing trend in the case inflow at Croatian courts in the past two years, as clearly presented by the graph below. According to the data provided by the Statistics Section, the main reason for the decrease in the influx of cases at courts is the amendment to the Execution Act in terms of the transfer of jurisdiction in reaching execution decisions based on authentic documents from courts to public notaries. In 2007, public notaries received 404,891 execution cases based on authentic documents, out of which they resolved 399,553 cases (98%). Since 2003, probation cases have also been delegated to public notaries. In 2006, public notaries received 57,573 probation cases and resolved 49,408 cases (85%), and in 2007 they received 59,789 probation cases and resolved 47,262 cases (79%).

As far as second-instance courts are concerned, the following table shows that the number of incoming cases has decreased in relation to 2006. The table shows that only the High Misdemeanour Court has had a constant increasing trend in incoming cases in the past 5 years. However it is expected that the inflow of cases to the High Misdemeanour Court will significantly decrease (by 2/3 according to the projections of the High Misdemeanour Court) as a result of the implementation of the new Misdemeanour Act which came into force on 1 January 2008. Namely, an appeal against a mandatory misdemeanour order issued by a competent prosecutor can be filed with misdemeanour courts as courts of final instance. In this way, the High Misdemeanour Court will be disburdened. After a year and a half of the implementation of the Act, it will be possible to have precise statistical data on the impact of the new Act in reducing the number of unresolved misdemeanour cases and in disburdening the High Misdemeanour Court (Measure No. 64).

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

MUNICIPAL COURTS

639,725

753,075

658,989

450,272

372,461

COUNTY COURTS

99,566

111,663

113,324

123,669

122,546

COMMERCIAL COURTS

166,497

177,608

184,905

201,538

176,229

HIGH COMMERCIAL COURTS

9,478

8,345

8,078

7,800

7,878

ADMINISTRATIVE COURTS

12,115

10,982

12,465

14,068

13,166

SUPREME COURT

5,050

5,331

5,893

5,479

5,649

TOTAL:

932,431

106,7004

983,654

802,826

697,929

           

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

MISDEMEANOUR COURTS

393,749

370,522

444,424

418,997

423,097

HIGH MISDEMEANOUR COURT

34,491

39,002

55,921

64,156

70,097

TOTAL:

428,240

409,524

500,345

483,153

493,194

           

 

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

ALL COURTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

1,360,671

1,476,528

1,483,999

1,285,979

1,191,123

With a view to reducing the inflow of cases in which the Republic of Croatia is being sued in civil proceedings, the provision of Article 186a of the Civil Procedure Act (OG 117/03) stipulates that before filing a claim against the Republic of Croatia, the plaintiff must refer to the competent state attorney’s office with a request for mediation. If the request is not granted or the decision on the request is not reached within 3 months of its submission, the applicant can file a claim with the competent court.

Since the above legal provision entered into force, following requests for mediation in disputes against the Republic of Croatia (in co-operation with competent state attorneys’ offices and competent ministries), settlements with civil servants and employees have been reached and executed with regard to their uncontested labour claims, based on the provisions of the Collective Agreement signed between the Croatian Government and the Trade Union of Civil Servants and Employees (which has led to the disburdening of courts and the avoidance of proceedings costs, interest and the costs of execution). In 2006 and 2007, the Ministry of Justice granted consent for settlements with employees of all courts and state attorneys’ offices in the cases of their claims for unpaid travel costs and unpaid compensations for accrued duty office hours pursuant to the Family Act.

One of the envisaged measures in the revised AP is an analysis of the efficiency of the application of Article 186a of the Civil Procedure Act. Here, the aim is to determine, and consequently to provide, the required preconditions to competent state bodies for the exercise of the legally entrusted task, and to achieve a higher rate of processing of mediation requests in disputes against the Republic of Croatia, thus reducing the number of civil procedures against the Republic of Croatia.

As one of the new measures, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia plans to introduce the measure of monitoring civil and execution cases in which the Republic of Croatia is the party being sued in civil procedures or is the execution debtor in execution procedures, with a view to reducing the number of unresolved civil and execution cases. Based on the processing of data collected in the described manner, the competent state bodies will launch procedures with the aim of ensuring the amicable resolution of such disputes and executions. The purpose of introducing the measure is to reduce unnecessary litigation in procedures where the Republic of Croatia is a party (new Measure No. 56).

The most effective measures to reduce the number of unresolved old cases have proven to be the measures of creating a database of unresolved old cases by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the redistribution of cases and temporary relocation of judges from courts with a heavier workload to ones with a lighter workload. The aforesaid database provides for systematic control, i.e. individual monitoring of the resolution of old cases by each court and by each judge. As these measures have achieved good results, they will continue to be applied.

Having collected the data on unresolved cases in all courts in late 2005, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia on 1 January 2006 launched the implementation of the programme for reducing the backlog of old cases. The programme initially regarded criminal cases received in the last three or more years as old criminal cases, and civil cases received in the last five or more years as old civil cases. In 2007, the criteria were made stricter in relation to civil cases, so that cases received in the last three or more years are now also regarded as old civil cases. The programme includes regular statistical monitoring of the dynamics of resolving old cases, which should be treated as a priority, and obliges the presidents of courts to take adequate measures if the progress of resolving the cases is not satisfactory, unless there is a reasonable explanation. The programme also entails regular meetings to discuss disputable legal issues and the regular submission of quarterly reports to the President of the Supreme Court on the progress achieved in resolving old cases. The results of the programme, which basically includes the implementation of Measure No. 14 from the previous AP - Encouraging work on older cases by incentives and supervision, are indisputably good. In the criminal branch at municipal and county courts, on 31 December 2006 there were 10,930 cases older than three or more years, while on 31 December 2007, the number of such cases was 5,883, which is a decrease of 46.17%. In the civil branch at municipal and county courts, on 31 December 2006 the total number of unresolved cases older than three or more years was 174,490, while on 31 December 2007 the number was 118,827, which is a decrease of 31.9%. By the end of 2008, the intention is to reduce the number of old civil cases to under 90,000, in 2009 to 70,000, in 2010 to 60,000, and in 2011 to 50,000. Regarding old criminal cases, the intention is to reduce their number to under 5,000 by the end of 2008, in 2009 to reach the level of 3,500-4,000, in 2010 to reduce the number to 2,000, and in 2011 to reach the number of 1,000 old criminal cases.

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia also continues to implement Measure No. 16 from the previous AP (which became measure No. 61 in the revised AP), which foresees the delegation of cases from overburdened to less burdened courts. Since this measure began to be applied, i.e. from August 2004 to 31 December 2007, a total of 52,518 cases were assigned to less burdened courts. Practically speaking, the measure achieved its purpose, i.e. it enabled the faster resolution of cases when courts at which the proceedings had been initiated could not review the cases and adopt a decision within a reasonable period of time. Consequently, its implementation continues.

At the time of adopting the Action Plan, the legislative basis for implementing Measure No. 15 from the previous AP (which became measure No. 59 in the revised AP), which foresees the relocation of judges from courts without any backlog to courts with an excessive backlog of cases, could be found in the provisions of the Courts Act, stipulating that judges, provided that they give their consent, may be subject to temporary relocation to work at other courts of the same or higher rank. Further to the said provision, over the past four-year period, 81 judges were relocated to work at other courts of the same or higher rank. A number of judges have already returned to their home courts. Amendments to the Courts Act, which entered into force in February 2007 with a view to enabling the judiciary to organise an even more purposeful work availability of judges, stipulate that judges may be relocated to work at other courts of the same rank up to 50 km from their home court even if they do not provide their consent, but only for a maximum period of two years. Further amendments to the Courts Act will lay down that it is possible for judges from commercial courts to be temporarily relocated to municipal courts with a view to further expanding the possibility of applying the measure of relocation of judges (new Measure No. 60). With the same purpose, it is planned to adopt the Ordinance on the costs of work outside the place of a judge's residence, which should enable the faster and simpler relocation of judges to work at other courts which for certain reasons have an undercapacity of judges or a large backlog of cases (new Measure No. 58).

With a view to implementing Measure No. 12 from the previous AP, which foresees the introduction of clear and objectively verifiable criteria for a quantitative assessment of the work of all judges, new Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges were adopted and entered into force on 1 January 2007. The Framework Criteria determine the number of cases which a judge should resolve annually, bearing in mind the complexity of the type of case and the ways in which certain types of cases can be resolved. The new Framework Criteria enable the presidents of courts and judicial councils to objectively determine and evaluate the quantitative results of the work of judges. Besides the quantitative indicators of judge performance and the quality indicators in the form of the performance evaluation of judges in accordance with the Methodology for the Assessment of Judges’ Performance, the introduction of new indicators of court efficiency is envisaged (new Measure No. 62).

With a view to implementing Measure No. 17 from the previous AP regarding the efficient use of the work of court advisors, the Courts Act, which entered into force in December 2005, lays down all types of procedures and cases in which court advisors are authorised to work independently. Following the entry into force of the said Act, the Ministry of Justice issued an instruction asking all courts, in the process of making statistical reports on the work of staff, to report in particular on the results of the independent work of court advisors. The Judicial Inspection of the Ministry of Justice was entrusted with the task of paying special attention to the efficiency of court advisors' work in supervising the performance of the activities of judicial administration. As the results of the work of court advisors are monitored and subject to special reports, they serve to objectively assess the work of court advisors when they apply for vacancies within the judiciary.

With a view to shortening the length of court proceedings, certain legislative changes were made to facilitate the process. Along with amendments to the Execution Act already mentioned, which were made with a view to achieving the said goal, the new Misdemeanour Act was adopted in October 2007. The new Misdemeanour Act foresees mechanisms to accelerate misdemeanour proceedings, to eliminate unnecessary procedural actions, to expand the powers of extrajudicial bodies in the procedure, and to impose greater procedural discipline on the participants. With a view to implementing Measure No. 64 from the previous AP, in April 2007 the Platform for drafting the new Criminal Procedure Act was adopted. It includes strategic guidelines for an in-depth transformation of the criminal procedure. The new Act will completely reform the investigation and improve procedural rules, i.e. set up procedural institutes that should contribute to greater efficiency of the criminal procedure as a whole. The proposal of the Act was sent for legislative procedure on 16 June 2008 (Measure No. 67 in the revised AP). The amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act should set up a new system of rules for criminal procedure which must provide for the protection of human rights and the reliable determination of truth in fast, simple and cost-efficient proceedings which take into account the nature and seriousness of the criminal offence, the accused and the victim, as well as the need to protect society against criminal offences. In June 2008, amendments to the Civil Procedure Act were sent for legislative procedure (new Measure No. 68). They include mechanisms aimed at shortening and simplifying the procedure in civil cases in view of the high number of incoming cases of this type. The legislative changes also plan to introduce the possibility of audio-recording court hearings, which should accelerate the duration of court proceedings (Measure No. 70 in the revised AP). It is assessed that the measure would reduce the duration of the main hearing by 50%, thus enabling judges to hold more court hearings in a single day.

A brief overview follows of the measures aimed at accelerating court proceedings in accordance with the draft proposal of amendments to the Civil Procedure Act.

Procedural changes are planned in first-instance proceedings with a view to accelerating first-instance adjudication, increasing the efficiency of first-instance courts, preventing abuse of procedural and other rights, and actualising the principle of cost-effectiveness of first-instance proceedings as far as possible. The institute of preliminary proceedings will be introduced, as will the obligation of setting preliminary hearings that limit the possibility for parties to present new evidence, file substantive and procedural objections, submit counterclaims and amendments to the claim by the completion of the preliminary procedure. The possibility for the court to postpone the preliminary hearing will be reduced to the minimum, i.e. only a single postponement will be possible. The possibility for the court to declare non-jurisdiction will be limited, exclusively in the procedural phase of the preliminary hearing. The punishment of litigation parties who commit graver abuse of procedural rights will be facilitated by transferring the forced payment of financial sanctions to the tax administration bodies. The existing organisation of legal proceedings has been modernised through the introduction of provisions on the technical recording of first-instance proceedings (television, audio, photographic, etc.), in line with the proscribed limitations and authorisations. Furthermore, the delivery of court letters will be improved by amending the positive legislation by specifying and simplifying the means of delivery in property disputes, other recorded material rights, in disputes on obligations entered in land registers, on all types of entries in land registers, in disputes on rights entered in other public registers in the Republic of Croatia, as well as in disputes on temporary contractual claims. The working group is still also discussing other possible solutions for more efficient delivery. The provisions on the preliminary procedure in disputes where the Republic of Croatia is a party will be specified and improved, in line with the resolution of problems identified in case law practice.

Changes will be made in second-instance proceedings as well, providing for a wider scope of proceedings by the second-instance court in the appellate proceedings, which should accelerate civil procedures and result in the resolution of a large number of cases. To this end, it is envisaged that the second-instance court may alter the first-instance judgement in accordance with the file, regardless of the facts stated in the first-instance judgement, and regardless of possible essential violations of the Civil Procedure Act with regard to certain shortcomings that the first-instance judgement may contain. The possibility of holding hearings before the second-instance court in the processing of appeals will be introduced at the discretion of the second-instance court and if there is a need for the proper and full establishment of facts. In the case of a decision annulment, the second-instance court will be obliged to specify and provide reasons for the actions to be taken by the first-instance court in renewed proceedings, with the possibility of interpreting the application of substantive law, thus strengthening the obligation of the second-instance court to be clear and precise when giving instructions to be followed by the first-instance court. This will avoid multiple annulments of first-instance decisions and the “strolling” of cases from lower to higher instance courts and vice versa.

Amendments will be made to the institute of revision which, pursuant to Supreme Court decision No. U-I/1569/2004 of 20 December 2006, should expand the legal opportunities for the submission of a request for revision. The new arrangements regarding revision significantly expand the procedural possibility for the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia to perform its function stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia – to guarantee the uniform application of case law and the equality of all citizens. This task has been assumed by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia which is overloaded with cases that, due to the current legal arrangements regarding revision, have not been able to reach the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, as a condition for submitting a request for revision, the amendments have reduced the case value of the disputed part of the judgement to HRK 70,000.00, and HRK 200,000.00 in cases before the commercial court. Furthermore, it will still be possible to submit a request for revision upon authorisation by a second-instance court for a certain substantial or procedural issue the court considers relevant for the guarantee of the uniform application of case law and the equality of citizens. However, the greatest novelty is that the parties will always be able to submit a request for revision of a second-instance judgement, even when the value of the disputed part of the judgement is less than HRK 70,000.00, except in the case of a judgement adopted in a case initiated by a worker against the termination of a labour contract (in the initially proposed version), and in cases where the decision on the dispute depends on the resolution of a substantive or procedural issue of relevance for the uniform application of case law and the equality of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. The working group continues to discuss the proposed versions for the enhancement of the institute of revision.

The proposed amendments to the Execution Act are intended to additionally accelerate and simplify the execution procedure, resolve certain dilemmas identified in practice, simplify and further elaborate the work of public notaries and courts, and prevent the possibility of misuse of previously recognised procedural authorities. The existential minimum of the execution debtor is protected, thus providing for the social component of the execution procedure. Furthermore, the institute of a European enforcement order for uncontested claims is introduced and the final deadline for adjudication in motions on uncontested claims has been set. The Draft Proposal of the Amendments to the Execution Act was submitted for Government procedure on 9 May 2008.

The draft of a new Criminal Procedure Act also provides measures for the acceleration of court proceedings. The investigation phase will be transferred to the jurisdiction of the State Attorney’s Office. The Act foresees the duration of the investigation phase up to six months, which, exceptionally, may be extended upon the approval of the Chief State Attorney up to a further six months. In addition, amendments are foreseen to provide, through a simplification of the procedure, further acceleration of the summary criminal procedure. Furthermore, new methods for summons delivery will accelerate proceedings by preventing unjustifiable delays in the proceedings through non-attendance and for similar reasons. The issuance of a criminal order related to legal entities will also be possible. A new method of implementing the principle of opportunity in dismissing unfounded criminal reports and concluding settlements during proceedings is being elaborated.

With a view to achieving greater efficiency in the work of courts, the Courts Act, which entered into force in December 2005, places the protection of the right of parties to a trial within a reasonable time within the competence of county courts, the High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia, the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia. So far, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia had sole jurisdiction concerning the protection of the said right. The foregoing was envisaged to actively employ superior courts, based on various measures already available to them, to encourage courts immediately inferior to them to prevent violations of the right of parties to a trial within a reasonable time in pending proceedings. By acting further to the requests of parties for a trial within a reasonable time, superior courts are able to speed up court proceedings conducted by inferior courts by fixing a time limit within which the inferior court should issue its decision. Such a way of determining the competence of courts in protecting the right of parties to a trial within a reasonable time was not foreseen in the Action Plan as a separate measure.

Regarding modernisation of court administration, i.e. more efficient supervision of the work of court administration, along with the described measures enabling simpler and faster court management through the introduction of new statistical tools to monitor the work of court administration and human resources, the Courts Act, which entered into force in December 2005, also foresees the establishment of a special body within the Ministry of Justice to directly supervise the work of judicial administration in courts. The formation of the Judicial Inspection was not foreseen in the Action Plan, but the need to establish the body arose from the fact that the unlawful and irregular work of court administration, the lack of organisational and management skills, and the initiative of certain court presidents harmed the efficient operation of courts. So far, inspection has been carried out in forty-one (41) cases. Considering that the amendments to the Act on the State Attorney's Office foresaw that the Judicial Inspection must supervise the work of judicial administration directly in state attorneys’ offices, it became necessary to recruit further staff (new Measure No. 105). One of the ways under consideration to achieve the foregoing is to designate in the annual plan of work the judges at county courts who will be made available to the Ministry of Justice as judicial inspectors for a period of two years. Thus, the best judges, having received adequate training, would become judicial inspectors. The Ministry of Justice has drafted the proposal of amendments to the Regulation on the internal organisation of the Ministry of Justice and has submitted it to the Croatian Government for adoption. The document envisages the organisation of the Judicial Inspection Sector as an independent body with an adequate number of personnel to meet the requirements for the regular supervision of judicial administration in courts and state attorneys’ offices. In line with the Proposal, the Sector will comprise two departments: the Department for the Supervision of Judicial Administration in Courts and State Attorneys’ Offices; and the Department for Applications and Complaints. The Department for the Supervision of Judicial Administration in Courts and State Attorneys’ Offices is due to recruit an additional 9 staff members: 8 judicial inspectors and 1 Head of Department. The remaining personnel within the Judicial Inspection Sector will consist of employees who have been working in the Judicial Administration Sector that is to be closed. Currently, judicial inspections are conducted by the two persons that, through the Regulation on the internal structure of the Ministry of Justice in force, are positioned in the roles of Head of Sector for the Judicial Administration, and Head of Department for the Supervision of Judicial Administration in Courts and State Attorneys’ Offices. These persons meet the requirements for judicial inspectors prescribed by the Courts Act. Until now, in addition to the mentioned persons, some other employees of the Ministry of Justice that conduct certain type of work related to the sphere subject to supervision (i.e. land registers, personnel and financial affairs), as well as certain judges seconded to the Ministry of Justice, have also participated in the inspections.

This more regular and systematic approach to the performance of supervision will result in the need to adopt an annual plan of work of the inspection at the beginning of every calendar year, i.e. the list of judicial bodies that should be visited, which may be suspended only in exceptional situations (new Measure No. 106). It also proved necessary to lay down a special form for performing standard inspections (new Measure No.107).

As part of the project within Measure No. 32 (which became revised Measure No. 87) - Support to the more efficient and modern work of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia, with the aim of drafting the new Administrative Disputes Act, an analysis of the current organisation and methodology of work of the said court is underway. So far, within the project, a Strategic Study on the making of the new Administrative Disputes Act was drafted. The study was submitted to the Government of the Republic of Croatia for adoption. Once the Strategic Study is adopted, the process of drafting the new law will begin (new Measure Nos. 88, 88a and 89). The study foresees measures for aligning administrative disputes with the requirements of the acquis communautaire, as well as measures to boost the efficiency and modernisation of administrative adjudication in the Republic of Croatia. The reform will include a solution for the full jurisdiction of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia in order to comply with the provisions of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Public hearings will in principle be obligatory and they will not depend on the judge’s discretion.

Measure No. 94 - Amendments to the Public Notaries Act to further improve the practice of public notaries and to supplement the tasks of public notaries’ offices, and Measure No. 95 - Determine criteria for the establishment of the number of public notaries from the previous AP have also been completed. The Act on Amendments to the Public Notaries Act (OG 16/07) stipulates criteria for determining the number of public notaries’ offices (settlements with 15,000 inhabitants, settlements with 200 or more economic operators, settlements where there is the seat of a municipal or commercial court, must have at least one public notary’s office), determines the number of public notary trainees in a public notary’s office, introduces notarial advisors, and regulates other issues in view of the expanded powers of public notaries. The number of public notaries’ offices is set in a special subordinate piece of legislation, i.e. the Ordinance on official seats of public notaries (OG 84/07).

The project "Support to the Reform of the Croatian Judiciary" has resulted in the development of e-Statistics, thus launching Measure No. 30 (Measure No. 93 in the revised AP), which foresees the restructuring of court statistics and the development of objective criteria and indicators for supervising the functioning of the system. The project involved the making of new statistical tools, given that the current statistical tool (endless manually-kept tables based on several auxiliary and non-standard records submitted to the Ministry of Justice by post once every three months) is completely outdated, and in view of the adoption of the mentioned new Framework Criteria for the Work of Judges which creates the need to monitor their work in a statistically different fashion. After the statistical tools were made, in December 2007 five workshops were held to train court statisticians to use the programme. At the same time, the software was installed at all municipal courts. Considering that in December 2007 and January 2008, all municipal courts finished the process of entering their cases into the e-Statistics system, all statistical reports on the operation of municipal courts will from now on be performed through the said system. The new statistical tools, apart from enabling daily quantitative monitoring of the work of every individual judge, also allow for the production of fast and accurate tabular and graphic overviews of the operation of municipal courts under many other criteria, as set by those using the system (Ministry of Justice, higher-ranking courts, Supreme Court, etc.). The making of the statistical tools will enable better court management with regard to implementing plans for resolving the backlog, but also from the aspect of human resources, equipment and means. The e-Statistics project, which will include all other types of regular, but also specialised courts over the period ahead, is basically the beginning of the implementation of Measure No. 25 (Measure No. 90 in the revised AP), which foresees the development of court statistics to ensure the efficient monitoring of the work results of every single judge at every court in the Republic of Croatia. However, it is pointed out that the e-Statistics project will be used in the transitional period, i.e. until the date of the full implementation of the ICMS at all courts, when the e-Statistics system will become only one of the segments of the ICMS.

Regular statistical monitoring will enable judges to better deal with the backlog and with the problems encountered in international legal assistance by making IT tools to enter data connected with execution and for the recognition of foreign court decisions. Statistics for the recognition of foreign court decisions in commercial matters will be separate from statistics on the execution of foreign court decisions in commercial matters, and from statistics concerning the execution and recognition of foreign arbitration adjudications. It also became necessary to introduce statistics on the execution and recognition of foreign court decisions in civil matters. The foregoing is covered by Measure No. 91 in the revised AP and will speed up the currently lengthy procedures of recognition and execution, and will round off the e-Statistics project.

The Draft Proposal of Amendments to the Regulation on the internal organisation of the Ministry of Justice envisages the establishment of a Department for Statistical Research and Records Management within the Sector of Human Resources in Judicial Bodies. In line with the requirements for strengthening capacities in statistical monitoring and statistical research with regard to numerous analyses envisaged in the revised Action Plan, instead of the existing Statistical Research Section, it is envisaged to establish a new Department for Statistical Research and Records Management, and to recruit two additional officials (Head of Department and advisor), as covered by Measure No. 49 of the revised AP. The remaining personnel will consist of the staff of the current Section.

As part of the stated e-Statistics project, the process has begun of making model forms of court decisions and other acts. At this moment, around fifty forms for conducting procedures in civil cases and around fifty forms for conducting procedures in execution cases have been developed. They have been submitted to the working group in charge of verifying the forms, consisting of representatives of the judicial authority and the Ministry of Justice. After the forms are verified, the forms will be issued as a manual and, based on a joint instruction issued by the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court, they will be applied in the work of courts. Part of such verified forms will begin to be used as of June 2008. The forms will be used in the transitional period, until the full implementation of the ICMS, when they will become one of its segments. The making of the forms is basically the beginning of the implementation of Measure No. 36 (Measure No. 94 in the revised AP) which, amongst other things, foresees the introduction of official forms for court decisions in the segment of unification of case law.
 
Regarding the development of alternative dispute resolution, and the execution of Measure Nos. 49, 50, 51 and 52, as foreseen by the previous Action Plan, it is pointed out that mediation is now possible at 8 municipal courts, the Commercial Court in Zagreb and the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia. Mediation centres were formed with the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Croatian Association of Employers and the Croatian Bar Association. In view of the results of mediation as a means of disburdening the workload at courts, in 2008 it is planned to expand the circle of municipal and commercial courts where mediation is possible, i.e. those at which there is the greatest backlog (Measure No. 108 of the revised AP). All judges who work on mediation cases have undergone suitable training, and preparations for the training of new judges have also been made. A brochure was issued and a poster printed, encouraging citizens and businessmen to use mediation as an alternative method of dispute resolution. A promotional video on mediation that will run on national television is being made in co-operation with the British Embassy. Representatives of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the Croatian Association of Employers, the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts and the Ministry of Justice are working to prepare posters and brochures to promote out-of-court mediation, i.e. mediation with the chambers mentioned.

 

Statistical data on mediation at the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia (April data)

   
 

YEAR

Total number of received requests for mediation

Total No. of cases in which both parties accepted the motion for
mediation

Total No. of unilaterally accepted motions for mediation

Total No. of requests in which one side rejected the motion for mediation

Total No. of requests in which one side accepted and the other rejected the motion for mediation

The ways in which the mediation procedure was finalised

Pending mediation cases

 
 

of which

of which

 
 

A

B

A

B

C

D

 
 

Number of requests for mediation submitted by courts

Number of requests for mediation received from parties

Total number of cases in which mediation successfully ended in a settlement

Total number of cases in which the proceedings, following a motion for mediation, were resolved by other means (claim withdrawn, stayed)

Total number of cases in which mediation failed and the case was referred back to the judge

 

 
   
 

2007

420

7

35

129

22

14

15

4

7

 

1

 
 

2008

463

17

82

103

38

46

29

of which 2 from 2007

7

26

of which 5 from 2007

 

27

 
   
   
   

TOTAL

883

24

117

232

60

60

44

11

33

 

28

 
                   

total - resolved

88

             
                   

total - successful

55

             

Commercial Court in Zagreb – Mediation statistics for 2006 - 2008

Referred for mediation

Consent granted

Successful

Unsuccessful

770

416

128

122



Referred for mediation Consent granted Successful Unsuccessful

It is necessary to mention alternative dispute resolution at the State Attorney's Office, especially in connection with criminal offences committed by juvenile offenders and young adults, where around 50% of charges are dismissed, but also the good stance of the State Attorney's Office to require the issuance of criminal warrants, so that over 5,000 criminal cases a year are resolved through the adoption of judgements on the issuance of criminal warrants, thus shortening the criminal procedure. Measure No. 66 of the previous AP relates to the said practice of the State Attorney's Office. Its application will continue by encouraging state attorneys’ offices to apply the institute of insignificant criminal offence, opportunism, and to reach settlements in the criminal procedure more often, i.e. to require the issuance of criminal warrants (Measure No. 113 of the revised AP).

With a view to the unification of case law, Measure No. 35 of the previous AP has been completed. It involved determining the competence of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia to issue authentic interpretations of national regulations before inferior courts by providing in the Courts Act, which entered into force in December 2005, that in the event where second-instance courts adopt different decisions on the same factual and legal matter, and where extraordinary legal remedies are not permitted, the state attorney and the party may submit a request to the Supreme Court for the uniform application of the law, so that the Supreme Court can evaluate whether the decisions jeopardise the uniform application of laws and the equality of citizens. Before making a decision concerning the justifiability of the request, it is laid down that the Supreme Court will request second-instance courts to provide it with the relevant case files in which those decisions have been adopted. In addition, the Supreme Court may instruct the courts even before adopting the decision on the justifiability of the request to suspend the process of making a decision in all still pending proceedings until it adopts a legal standpoint on the uniform application of the law in question. The legal standpoint is binding on all courts in all proceedings to which the legal standpoint relates, and in which a legally effective court decision is still not adopted.

In terms of improving public relations in the judiciary, Measure No. 78 of the previous AP has been completed. The Courts Act (OG 150/05) lays down the obligation of courts to have a spokesperson. It is laid down that the spokesperson of the court is either a judge or court advisor designated in the annual plan of work at the court and that he/she provides notifications concerning the work of the court in accordance with the Courts Act, the Rules of Procedure of the Court, and the Act on the Right of Access to Information. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Court (OG 9/06) lay down that the spokesperson may deny the right of access to information only if there is a reason to believe that disclosure of such information would prevent the efficient, independent and impartial conduct of court proceedings and the execution of court decisions or punishment. The new measure No. 114 envisages the introduction of a spokesperson in five of the largest county state attorneys’ offices and in the Municipal State Attorney’s Office in Zagreb, as well as the training in public relations skills of the heads of state attorneys’ offices. It is planned to elaborate ways in which the Ministry of Justice notifies the public on basic information related to access to courts (addresses, phone numbers, working hours, and the like.) by means of simple print materials, the Internet, and so on.

With a view to ensuring adequate working conditions in judicial bodies, in the period from 2004 to 2007 capital investments and investments in equipment were made in the total amount of HRK 304,489,487.85. The funds were used to finance capital investments in the form of the acquisition, construction, repair and maintenance of buildings and the repayment of loans for the needs of the following judicial bodies: the Supreme Court, the Administrative Court, the High Commercial Court, the High Misdemeanour Court, 6 county courts,1 6 municipal courts,2 2 misdemeanour courts,3 the Commercial Court in Zadar, the Prison Hospital in Zagreb, the Penitentiary in Glina, Justice Square (Trg Pravde) in Zagreb and Justice Square in Split, the acquisition of premises and the adaptation of the building of the Ministry of Justice.

In 2007, the adaptation of and procurement of equipment for the County Court in Zadar, the County Court in Vukovar and the Municipal Court in Trogir were concluded. The adaptation of the County Court in Split is also soon to be finished. The urban architecture competition for Justice Square in Zagreb has ended, and the documents for the construction of a facility for the accommodation of prisoners in Glina Penitentiary have also been prepared.

New projects include the repair of the Municipal Court in Jastrebarsko, the reconstruction and repair of the Municipal Court in Velika Gorica, while the preparing of project documents for the adaptation of the buildings of Pula Municipal State Attorney’s Office and Rijeka Municipal State Attorney's Office and for an annexe to the SAO is also underway. Repairs of prison facilities also began for the prisons in Zadar, Lepoglava and Glina, while project documents for prison facilities in Turopolje, Požega and Varaždin are also being prepared.

Significant investments in infrastructure and equipment will continue in order to create better conditions for work in the judiciary. For capital investments in the construction, repair and maintenance of buildings, and the procurement of equipment, furniture and the repayment of loans, it is planned to spend approximately HRK 130,000,000 for 2008. The funds will be used to cover the instalments of bank loans connected with the purchase of buildings in Zagreb for the needs of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia and the High Commercial Court of the Republic of Croatia, and for projects already underway or with respect to which most of the works have already been performed: the County Court in Zadar, Justice Square (Trg Pravde) in Split, Justice Square (Trg Pravde) in Zagreb, the County Court in Osijek, the Penitentiary in Glina, the Municipal Court in Velika Gorica, the Municipal Court in Jastrebarsko, the Penitentiary in Šibenik, and the Prison Hospital. Justice Square (Trg Pravde) in Zagreb, Justice Square (Trg Pravde) in Split and the Penitentiary in Glina should be singled out. New projects connected with the rationalisation of the network of municipal courts, with respect to which it is planned to spend approximately HRK 40,000,000 of the total amount, relate to the municipal courts in the following places: Metković, Pazin, Delnice, Hrvatska Kostajnica Glina, Knin, Bjelovar, Čakovec, Benkovac, Pakrac, Našice, Daruvar, Gospić, the Palace of Justice in Šibenik, and the municipal court in Slavonski Brod. The repair, adaptation, new construction works or purchase of new premises related to the mentioned courts will serve to create all the physical preconditions for the merger of municipal courts. Other projects include the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia, the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Pula and the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Rijeka. For the needs of capital investments in the construction, repair and maintenance of buildings, the procurement of equipment and furniture and the repayment of loans, in the period 2009-2010 it is planned to spend approx. HRK 260,000,000. Special emphasis is placed on the continued rationalisation of the court network, on which it is planned to spend an additional HRK 80,000,000 in 2009 and 2010 (for the Municipal Courts in Knin, Bjelovar, Čakovec, Benkovac, Pakrac, Našice, Daruvar and Gospić).

With respect to capital investments in informatisation in the period 2004-2007, a total of HRK 158,684,733.00 was allocated from the State Budget. Funds were used to acquire IT equipment, to proceed with the process of informatisation and the maintenance of the existing registers, the process of informatisation of land registry books, and of creating a digital land register database at the level of the Republic of Croatia. Funds were also used to prepare the infrastructure: project documents were made for the structural cabling of local computer and telephone networks at 74 locations, covering 140 judicial bodies, and to ensure continued maintenance and improvement of the registers within the competence of the judiciary (accounting records, criminal and misdemeanour records, records of civil servants and employees, the court register, land registry books). The WAN network infrastructure of the Ministry of Justice, the connection of all commercial courts with the central court registry database (Frame Relay connections), and the linking of land registry departments with municipal courts (ISDN connections) were consolidated. Court register departments within commercial courts, land register departments within municipal courts, and external parts of the Ministry are now connected into a network. The informatisation process also continues in courts. For example, the issue of the LAN network at the County Court in Zagreb has been resolved, and the said court now has high-quality IT infrastructure. Essential continuity of maintenance and stability and the further development of the systems implemented have been ensured. The process of informatisation of land registry books continues with a view to creating a land registry database in digital form at the level of the Republic of Croatia. The introduction of the Prison Information System also continues, with the main foundation being the Register of Prisoners. The construction of local computer networks (LAN) at 25 locations/buildings, i.e. 96 judicial bodies in the Republic of Croatia, is moving forward. Most activities in 2007 were related to investments in the design, control and building of computer networks for the judiciary.

REVIEW OF CAPITAL INVESTMENTS BY YEAR

PERIOD

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN BUILDINGS

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN INFORMATISATION

2004

HRK 61,400,697.54

HRK 26,930,000.00

2005

HRK 72,213,247.19

HRK 29,380,000.00

2006

HRK 66,875,543.12

HRK 50,984,253.00

2007

HRK 104,000,000.00

HRK 51,390,480.00

TOTAL

HRK 304,489,487.85

HRK 158,684,733.00

The measures of introducing modern information technologies are also underway to increase the efficiency of the judiciary and prevent corruption. The project of technical assistance, dealing with bankruptcies, delivered the Integrated Court Management System (ICMS). In August and September 2006, the Government of the Republic of Croatia made a decision to position the ICMS within the Financial Agency (FINA), while the Land and Cadastre Registry Database will be located within the Information Systems and Information Technologies Support Agency (APIS-IT). In January 2007, the Integrated Court Management System project began at the Municipal Court in Pula, the Commercial Court in Split, the Commercial Court in Zagreb and the Municipal Court in Zagreb (Measure No. 31 from the previous AP which became Measure No. 99 of the revised AP). Training in basic computer skills and in using the software for ICMS is also underway. Up to 31 December 2007, a total of 1,200 persons attended. By the end of 2008, it is foreseen to have the ICMS in 10 courts. By 2010, it is planned to introduce the ICMS in a total of 60 courts, in particular in the courts which will continue with their work even after the completion of the rationalisation of the court network. The ICMS will be introduced through the PHARE 2006 project. In the minor number of courts in which the ICMS will not be implemented by 2010, its introduction will be financed by the Ministry of Justice. Impartiality in awarding cases to judges or councils of judges should be mentioned here, as the system does this automatically and the user registering the case does not know to whom the case is awarded until this piece of information has already been entered in the system. If there is a specific reason why a case should be assigned to another judge, the case can be re-assigned by an authorised person, but the reasons for the change will need to be clearly stated. The system will then re-assign the case. This procedure enables the assignment of cases to be controlled and reduces the possibility of corruption.

The statistical functionalities of ICMS represent one of its greatest benefits, which is precisely the reason it was developed. New statistical and management reports, which the court system did not previously have, will allow for transition to a completely new dimension of managing such an extensive, complex and inert system as the court system and, in a wider sense, the entire judicial system.

The statistical functionalities of ICMS in a broader sense can be divided into two basic subgroups of reports: statistical reports and management reports. Statistical reports are envisaged as collective, numerical reports which provide the basic data needed to monitor the operation of the court system, usually done today by the courts and the Ministry of Justice. Management reports are envisaged more as reports to judges and enable case management and case-flow management to be handled by court/department presidents.

The Prosecutorial Case Tracking System (CTS) is based on principles identical to those of the ICMS. At the moment, work is in progress on the system for the criminal department of the State Attorney's Office, and this department will be followed by the civil department. The main goal of the first phase of the project is to improve the efficiency of the SAO in processing criminal investigations. The CTS system must enable access to information concerning the status of the case, facilitate case-flow management, improve supervision of the work of state attorneys and deputy state attorneys and enable an objective assessment of their work, reduce the possibility of internal corruption, and improve administration and operation management. As the CTS is based on the same principles as the ICMS, the two systems will be complementary. Work on the system began in early February 2008, and it is planned to complete it within six months. Within that term, the system will be set up at four test locations where users will also undergo training for its use (Measure No. 100 of the revised AP).                       

Work also continues on the informatisation and modernisation of public registers of the judiciary (the court register of companies and the land register).

The development of the IT component of the Common Information System (CIS) project is currently underway, which represents the most important activity in the continuation of the project of re-organisation of land registers and the cadastre. It is now possible to use the Internet to obtain information in the land register for almost all plots. It is planned to complete the process of putting verified land register data on the Internet for the entire Republic of Croatia by the end of 2008. Upon completion of the project, it will be possible to obtain land registry and cadastre data with an excerpt from the plan for an identified plot.

The IT system for keeping the register of commercial companies was set up in 1994 and upgraded in 2007 through amendments to the Court Register Act, the Companies Act, and the Ordinance on the method of entry in the court register. The project of technological and functional modernisation of the Court Register application was launched. The new application will be web-based and centralised, which will greatly reduce the cost of maintenance and delivery of new versions of the application. Technological improvements will enable the initiation of the procedure for establishing companies by electronic means. The project, realised in co-operation with the Financial Agency, enables founders of limited liability companies to make an entry of the establishment of the limited liability company based on a valid online application, which can be submitted at HITRO.HR offices and public notaries’ offices.

The informatisation and modernisation of public registers of the judiciary will continue in 2008 and will include increasing their availability via the Internet. This will enable the use of the court register services, including the submission of online applications through HITRO.HR by public notaries, which is currently possible only at the pilot court in Varaždin, for all other commercial courts (following the training of an additional 101 staff) after the system becomes operational.

The software package for the computer-based keeping of misdemeanour registers has been installed at several misdemeanour courts. Its purpose is to gather and search through the data of misdemeanour courts in a way which is for the time being satisfactory, to present the data in the form of reports, and to submit the data to the competent authorities in accordance with the law. Therefore, it is used to electronically maintain the register of misdemeanour cases, the register of executions and the auxiliary registers and to provide numerous functions. Based on the data contained in the register, the system creates statistical reports and prepares and sends the data to the relevant databases.

Before the new revision of the Action Plan begins, it is planned to conduct an impact assessment of the various measures foreseen in this Action Plan and of their added value in terms of contributing to reducing the case backlog and speeding up court proceedings. The purpose is to determine what kind of impacts individual measures have had in improving the functioning of the Croatian judiciary. This assessment will serve as a base to revise the Action Plan, as one of the regular modes for monitoring its implementation (Measure No. 116a).

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required

Strengthening the institutional capacities for the implementation of the judicial reform

46

(rev. 11)

Adoption of the Amendments to the Regulation on the internal structure of the Ministry of Justice with a view to transforming the Department for Strategic Development into the Directorate for Strategic Development

MJ

II quarter
2008

Additional funds not required

47

Strengthening of human resources in the Directorate for Strategic Development within the Ministry of Justice

MJ

II quarter 2008

984,147 for 2008

48

Adoption of the Amendments to the Regulation on the internal structure of the Ministry of Justice with a view to establishing the Department for the Rationalisation of the Court Network and State Attorneys’ Offices

MJ

II quarter 2008

110,000

49

Strengthening of human resources of the Statistics Department of the MJ with a view to strengthening the capacity for statistical monitoring and analysis

MJ

III quarter 2008

70,000

50
(rev. 86)

Designating a responsible person within MJ (IT expert) for the management and co-ordination of projects which include an IT component

MJ

2008

Additional funds not required

51
(formerly 72)

Further strengthening of inter-institutional co-operation in the suppression of crime and corruption

MJ

2008

Additional funds not required

Reducing the backlog, with special emphasis on old cases
 
 
 

52
(rev. 14)

Drafting the Action Plan for resolving cases older than three years

SCRC

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not
required

53

Drafting the Action Plan for resolving older misdemeanour cases

High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

54

Drafting the Action Plan for decreasing the number of unresolved cases at the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb

Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

55

Drafting the Action Plan for resolving old cases at the Administrative Court

Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

56

Initiating systematic monitoring of civil and execution cases in which Croatia acts as the party being sued or the execution debtor

SCRC

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

57
(rev. 13)

Defining clear criteria for additional work of judges on old cases

MJ
SCRC

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

58

Adoption of the Ordinance on the costs of work outside the place of a judge's residence

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

59
(formerly 15)

Temporary transfer of judges from courts with a lighter workload to those with a heavier workload

SCRC

Continuously

Additional funds not required

60

Adoption of the Amendments to the Courts Act with a view to introducing the possibility of temporary relocation of judges from commercial courts to municipal courts

MJ

II quarter 2008

Funds included in Measure No. 3

61
(formerly 16)

Proceeding with the delegation of cases from courts with a heavier workload to those with a lighter workload

SCRC

Continuously

300,000 p.a.

62

Defining indicators of successful performance at the level of courts

SCRC

IV quarter
2008

Additional funds not required

63

Making an analysis of incoming cases in order to determine a sustainable inflow of cases

SCRC
MJ

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

64

Making an analysis of the results of the implementation of the new Misdemeanour Act

MJ

III quarter 2009

Additional funds not required

65
(rev. 18)

Making an analysis of non-judicial tasks which burden the work of judges and alleviating the workload of such tasks (e.g., calculation of costs, fees, correspondence regarding the gathering of data, etc.)

SCRC
MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

66

Promotion of certified commission agents

MJ

III quarter 2008

200,000

Shortening the duration of proceedings
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

67

(rev. 64)

Adoption of the new Criminal Procedure Act

MJ

III quarter 2008

80,000

68

Adoption of the Amendments to the Civil Procedure Act

MJ

II quarter 2008

80,000

69

Adoption of the Amendments to the Execution Act

MJ

II quarter 2008

80,000

69a

Making a strategic study for more efficient execution on chattels and introducing bailiffs in execution proceedings

MJ

IV quarter
2008

Additional funds not required

70

Adoption of the Amendments to the Civil Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Act to introduce the legal possibility of audio-recording all main hearings in all types of cases, with the making of a transcript from the hearing without the judge having to dictate the content of the statements

MJ

CrPA
III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

CPA
II quarter
2008

71

Commencement of using audio-recordings of all main hearings

MJ

2010-2012

39,780,000 (13,260,000 p.a.)

72
(formerly 20)

Continuation of the successful model of "land register clerks"

MJ

2008

3,890,700

73

Making an analysis of the legislative solutions to prevent abuse of procedural rights

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

74

Making an analysis of the legislative solutions to improve the system of the service of court writs in civil proceedings

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

75

Making an analysis of the legislative solutions to improve the system of the service of court writs in criminal proceedings

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

76

Making an analysis of the number of judges/court advisors at second-instance courts in view of the increased work at first-instance courts and the new Framework Criteria

MJ

I quarter 2009

Additional funds not required

 

77

Making an efficiency analysis of the application of Article 186a of the Civil Procedure Act in order to determine and meet the required preconditions in competent state bodies for a larger number of resolved cases for mediation in disputes against the Republic of Croatia and thus reducing the number of civil procedures against the Republic of Croatia

MJ

I quarter
2009

Additional funds not required

More efficient organisation of the judicial system
 

78

Adoption of the Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of Courts

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

79
(formerly 9)

Adoption of the Ordinance on the dynamics of physical merger of municipal courts

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

79a

Appointment of new court presidents of merged municipal courts

MJ

At latest
1 January 2010

Additional funds not required

80
(rev 8)

Making an analysis and study of the rationalisation of misdemeanour courts

MJ
High Misdemeanour Court of the Republic of Croatia

III quarter 2008

3,750,000

81

Adoption of the Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of Misdemeanour Courts

MJ

IV quarter 2008

40,000

82

Adoption of the Ordinance on the dynamics of the physical merger of misdemeanour courts

MJ

I quarter 2009

Additional funds not required

83
(formerly 10)

Based on the experience of mergers of municipal and misdemeanour courts, making an analysis of the re-organisation of second instance courts and specialised courts

MJ

2010

40,000

84
(formerly 5)

Making an analysis of jurisdiction in first-instance criminal proceedings

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

85

Commencement of the work of the Municipal Civil Court in Novi Zagreb

MJ

2009

10,000,000

86

Adoption of the Act on Jurisdictions and Seats of State Attorneys’ Offices

MJ

IV quarter 2008

40,000

86a

Adoption of the Ordinance on the dynamics of the physical merger of Municipal State Attorneys’ Offices

MJ

I quarter
2009

Additional funds not required

87
(rev. 32)

Completion of the project "Support to the Improvement of Work of the Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia"

MJ,
Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia

IV quarter 2008

2,829,047

88

Adoption of the Strategic Study for the making of the new Administrative Disputes Act

MJ
Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia

II quarter 2008

Funds included in Measure No. 87

88a

Establishment of the working group for the drafting of the new Administrative Disputes Act

MJ

I quarter
2009

Additional funds not required

89

Adoption of the new Administrative Disputes Act

MJ

IV quarter 2009

40,000

90
(rev. 25)

Developing court statistics to ensure efficient monitoring of the results of work of every judge at every court in the Republic of Croatia

MJ

2008

Funds included in Measure No. 99

91

Keeping regular statistics on cases of recognition and enforcement of foreign judicial and arbitral decisions

MJ

Continuously

Additional funds not required

92
(formerly 29)

Introducing the system of case management: making regulations/directives, comparative values, training on control methods

MJ

2008

Funds included in Measure No. 99

93
(formerly 30)

Modernisation of statistical tools for better monitoring of the functioning of the judiciary

MJ
SCRC

2009

1,000,000

94
(formerly 36)

Introducing official forms for court decisions (also in electronic form)

MJ
SCRC

III quarter 2008

313,000

95
(formerly 37)

Creating electronic forms for submissions by parties, whenever justified and feasible (electronic document exchange)

MJ

IV quarter 2011

Additional funds not required

Unification of case law
 
 
 

96
(formerly 38)

Making case law available to all judicial structures and to all interested persons through informatisation of the judiciary ("Court Network") and implementation of case law with free access to information

MJ

2009

Additional funds not required

97
(formerly 39)

In co-operation with other competent bodies, to select key judgements of the European Court of Justice relating to the protection of the four freedoms – free movement of persons, capital, goods and freedom to provide services, to have the decisions translated and published on the website of the Supreme Court

MJ

2009

200,000

Adequate infrastructure and equipment

98
(formerly 88)

Procuring IT and communications infrastructure for all judicial bodies (computers, communications equipment, LAN and Internet access)

MJ

2011

30,000,000 p.a.

99
(formerly 31)

Development and introduction of the ICMS

MJ

2008

23,814,640

2009

16,070,000

2010

17,600,000

100

Development and introduction of the Case Tracking System (CTS) at pilot state attorneys’ offices

MJ

2008

3,488,231

101

Introduction of the Case Tracking System (CTS) at all state attorneys’ offices (WAN, LAN, necessary equipment)

MJ

2011

7,000,000

102

Construction of the Justice Square in Zagreb

MJ

2008

7,000,000

2009

3,000,000

2010

7,000,000

103

Construction of the Justice Square in Split

MJ

2008

19,000,000

2009

23,000,000

2010

21,000,000

104

New projects related to the rationalisation of the network of municipal courts, planned to create the physical preconditions for the merger of municipal courts through repair, adaptation, new construction works or acquisition of new premises

MJ

2008

40,000,000

Efficient supervision of the performance of activities of judicial administration

105

Strengthening the capacity of human resources of the Judicial Inspection to enable it to perform regular supervision of the performance of the activities of judicial administration at courts and state attorneys’ offices

MJ

2008

Additional funds not required

106

Adoption of the annual plan of work of the Judicial Inspection

MJ

2008

Additional funds not required

107

Prescribing a form for the implementation of the standard judicial inspection

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

Alternative dispute resolution

108
(rev. 52)

Setting up regional mediation centres with the Commercial Courts in Osijek, Varaždin, Bjelovar, Rijeka and Pazin, and with the Municipal Courts in Karlovac and Krapina

MJ

2008

100,000

109

Adoption of the amendments to the Mediation Act

MJ

IV quarter 2009

40,000

110

Drafting the Code of Ethics for Mediators

MJ

IV quarter 2009

Funds included in Measure No. 109

111

Planning and implementation of the training of mediators

MJ

IV quarter 2009

500,000

112

Campaign of promoting mediation in the Republic of Croatia

MJ

IV quarter 2009

200,000

113
(rev 66)

Strengthening the use of settlements and alternative methods for resolving criminal matters

MJ
SAO

II quarter 2009

100,000

Relations with the media and the public

114

To simultaneously introduce professional spokespersons in the five largest county state attorneys’ offices and the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Zagreb and to train the leading staff in state attorneys’ offices in public relations skills

SAO

2008

1,080,000 p.a.

115
(formerly 79)

To develop ways in which MJ will notify the public about basic information related to access to courts (addresses, telephone numbers, working hours and the like) through simple printed materials, the Internet and the like

MJ

IV quarter 2008

300,000

116
(formerly 80)

To publish annual reports on the results of work of courts (local level) and the court system (national level)

MJ

Continuously

Additional funds not required

116a

Conducting an impact assessment of the various measures foreseen in this AP and their added value in addition to reducing the case backlog and accelerating court proceedings

Council for the Monitoring of the Judicial Reform

III quarter
2009

Additional funds not required

PLAN OF CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN INFORMATISATION IN THE PERIOD 2008-2010

MEASURE PLANNED

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY PLANNED

FUNDS PLANNED
2008

FUNDS PLANNED
2009

FUNDS PLANNED
2010

Professional development of employees

Professional development of employees – for training at judicial bodies and the ministry

1,300,000

1,390,000

1,463,000

Procurement of IT equipment

Procurement of IT equipment (computers, printers, multifunctional machines (scanners) for the court register) for the needs of the ministry and registers, judicial bodies, the legal aid project, the prison system...

15,050,000

13,903,000

18,223,000

Continuation of informatisation

Maintenance of electronic registers, records and registers (land registers, court register, criminal and misdemeanour records, file submission minutes, register of civil servants and employees, accounting records, web-portal of the judiciary and courts, e-Statistics, bulletin, real estate of foreign citizens). Continued implementation of the design of the IT infrastructure. Continued implementation of the programme of the Prison Information System and the like.

11,300,000

11,046,200

11,695,000

Support to HITRO.HR

Support to HITRO.HR for the submission of electronic applications to the court register (FINA hosting e-Forms, licences, making the system)

5,800,000

   

Continued construction of the IT system

Making local computer networks and procuring active communications equipment. Making project documents, supervising and documenting the situation concerning local computer networks

20,130,000

10,970,000

3,500,000

HITRO.NET

Services of telecommunication connections among judicial bodies through the broadband state network (HITRO.NET)

14,000,000

10,000,000

14,000,000

Project e-File

Hosting the computer equipment for the e-FILE and support of FINA for the services of the Call Centre and Help Desk. Investments in the computer programme and equipment for e-FILEs (FINA)

23,314,640

16,070,000

17,600,000

Maintenance of IT infrastructure

Maintenance of IT infrastructure

 

10,326,000

11,421,200

TOTAL

 

90.894.640

73,705,200

77,902,200

PLAN OF CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN THE PERIOD 2008-2010

MEASURE PLANNED

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY PLANNED

FUNDS
PLANNED
2008

FUNDS PLANNED
2009

FUNDS PLANNED
2010

Justice Square in Zagreb

Drawing-up project documents for Justice Square, obtaining the location permit, commencement of demolition, commencement of adaptation of the "E" building to accommodate the Municipal State Attorney's Office

7,000,000.00

3,000,000.00

7,000,000.00

Justice Square in Split

Completion of the adaptation of the building of the County Court in Split, commencement of adaptation of the building "Prima-Stande", in which the Municipal Court will be located

19,000,000.00

23,000,000.00

21,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Velika Gorica

Completion of adaptation of the Municipal Court

2,500,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Jastrebarsko

Commencement of adaptation of the yard-side structure in which the land register and archives will be located

1,500,000.00

2,000,000.00

2,500,000.00

Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia

Commencement of adaptation of the yard-side structure

5,000,000.00

7,000,000.00

3,000,000.00

County Court in Osijek

Complete reconstruction of the County Court in Osijek to ensure appropriate working conditions for the accommodation of judicial bodies in accordance with the highest standards

 

2,000,000.00

5,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Slavonski Brod

Adaptation of the court building to ensure better working conditions for the functioning of judicial bodies

1,000,000.00

1,000,000.00

1,500,000.00

SAO

Drawing up project documents for an annexe to the building

300,000.00

300,000.00

350,000.00

Municipal State Attorney's Office in Rijeka

Drawing up project documents, reconstruction and adaptation of the building in which the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Rijeka will be located

500,000.00

1,000,000.00

2,000,000.00

Municipal State Attorney's Office in Pula

Drawing up project documents, reconstruction and adaptation of the building in which the land registries of the Municipal Court in Pula, the Municipal State Attorney's Office, and the County State Attorney's Office in Pula will be located

1,500,000.00

1,500,000.00

1,000,000.00

County Court in Šibenik

Adaptation of the court building, which will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Tisno and the Municipal Court in Šibenik, and better working conditions for other judicial bodies in the building

4,000,000.00

100,000.00

 

Municipal Court in Knin

Reconstruction and adaptation of the court building in Knin. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Drniš with the Municipal Court in Knin

15,000,000.00

1,000,000.00

 

Municipal Court in Glina

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Gvozd with the Municipal Court in Glina

2,000,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Hrvatska Kostajnica

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Dvor with the Municipal Court in Hrvatska Kostajnica

1,500,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Delnice

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Čabar with the Municipal Court in Delnice

1,000,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Pazin

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Buzet with the Municipal Court in Pazin

1,500,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Metković

Acquisition of a new building to accommodate all judicial bodies in Metković, and to enable the merger of the Municipal Court in Vrgorac and the Municipal Court in Ploče with the Municipal Court in Metković

19,000,000.00

   

Municipal Court in Bjelovar

Construction of a new court building and reconstruction of the existing court building to improve working conditions for all judicial bodies in Bjelovar

 

14,000,000.00

16,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Čakovec

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Prelog with the Municipal Court in Čakovec

 

8,000,000.00

17,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Benkovac

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Obrovac with the Municipal Court in Benkovac

 

4,000,000.00

 

Municipal Court in Našice

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Orahovica with the Municipal Court in Našice

 

4,000,000.00

1,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Daruvar

Construction of a new court, enabling the merger of the Municipal Court in Garešnica, the Municipal Court in Grubišno Polje, and the Municipal Court in Pakrac with the Municipal Court in Daruvar

 

4,000,000.00

6,000,000.00

Municipal Court in Gospić

Adaptation of the court building. Its reconstruction will create physical conditions for the merger of the Municipal Court in Donji Lapac, the Municipal Court in Korenica, the Municipal Court in Otočac, and the Municipal Court in Gračac with the Municipal Court in Gospić

 

2,000,000.00

 

TOTAL

 

82,300,000.00

77,900,000.00

83,350,000.00

VI FREE LEGAL AID

In the Republic of Croatia, different forms of legal aid have been provided. The right to legal aid can be exercised under a number of regulations, depending on the type of procedure. In civil procedures, legal aid is available pursuant to the Civil Procedure Act and the Act on the Legal Profession. In criminal procedures, legal aid is available pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Act, and as an exemption from the payment of fees pursuant to the Civil Procedure Act, the Act on the Resolution of Conflicts of Laws with the Regulations of Other States in Particular Relations, and the Court Fees Act. In administrative matters, exemption from the payment of fees is possible under the General Administrative Procedure Act.
Asylum seekers are entitled to free legal aid under the new Asylum Act, which entered into force on 1 January 2008. This Act includes detailed provisions on the types of procedures, legal aid providers and time limits for legal aid to asylum seekers, asylees and aliens under subsidiary protection in relation to issues regulated under the Asylum Act.

However, there is no single record of the number of cases in which legal aid has been provided in the Republic of Croatia, and it is therefore difficult to indicate the exact amount of funds allocated for this purpose.

There are a number of active civil society organisations on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, some of which provide free legal aid. Having recognised the importance of their work and to support their activities during 2007, the Government of the Republic of Croatia allocated HRK 4.5 million for free legal aid provided by NGOs

The Free Legal Aid Act was adopted by the Croatian Parliament on 16 May 2008, by which, with the application of the existing regulations, a comprehensive legal aid system has been created in the Republic of Croatia. This will also facilitate the building of a records system and will ensure transparency and supervision in the spending of allocated funds.

The new Act on Free Legal Aid defines the types of procedures in which legal aid is available, legal aid for reasons of fairness, the forms of legal aid, beneficiaries, providers, the manner and conditions of exercising the right to legal aid, the right of foreign nationals to legal aid in line with the acquis communautaire and the Hague Conventions, and supervision of the professional and conscientious provision of legal aid.

The forms of legal aid foreseen in the new Act are both primary and secondary free legal aid. Approval of any form of legal aid also includes exemption from the payment of fees and costs of the proceedings. As regards legal aid providers, attorneys will provide primary and secondary legal aid. Associations will be authorised to provide only primary legal aid, while law clinics will be authorised to provide general legal information, legal advice and legal assistance in drawing up documents within the framework of primary legal aid. As for the competent body for authorising legal aid, it has been established in such a way as to provide maximum accessibility for citizens, although the Act also provides for the possibility for a potential beneficiary to contact a provider of legal aid directly. The funds necessary for the implementation of the Act and the administrative capacity are at this moment at the level permitted by the financial and administrative organisation of the state, which allows sufficient time for an assessment of the efficiency of the free legal aid system.

The provision of legal aid is an obligation of the state. The funds necessary for the organisation of free legal aid and for covering pertinent costs are secured in the State Budget. In order to allow citizens to use free legal aid as provided by this Act, it is necessary to meet certain conditions in terms of organisation, staff and IT with a view to setting up a good and efficient system.

Since it is difficult to estimate the actual need for free legal aid among citizens or the number of requests for free legal aid to be expected, it has been assessed that a certain number of employees should be recruited in 21 state administration offices in counties who will work on authorising requests for free legal aid in the first instance. The Government of the Republic of Croatia, at its session held on 12 June 2008, adopted the Regulation on amendments to the Regulation on the internal organisation of the state administration offices in counties, which, in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice, foresees the recruitment of the necessary number of employees. It can also be assumed that the City of Zagreb will not require new staff for authorising requests for free legal aid, but will provide pertinent training to existing staff. At the same time, the specific characteristics of certain counties should also be taken into account (their size, stage of economic development, position, etc.) as these features will certainly have an impact on the number of requests and consequently the number of employees which will need to be recruited to handle these requests. It should be noted that the funds secured in the State Budget for covering the costs of legal aid are secured exclusively for that purpose. The funds necessary for setting up the system and related activities are secured independently of the funds for the costs of legal aid, and constitute a separate budgetary item.

This Action Plan contains concrete measures to make the implementation of the Act more efficient. Regarding the legal framework, it is planned to adopt several pieces of subordinate legislation. In accordance with this Action Plan, the following four Ordinances and one Regulation need to be adopted: the Ordinance on the model form of the application for approval of the right to legal aid and of the statement of assets; the Ordinance on the model form of referral; the Ordinance on the method of keeping a record of procedures of legal aid provided; the Ordinance on the register of associations for the provision of legal aid; and the Regulation of the Government Republic of Croatia on the amount of award to attorneys (Measure Nos. 118, 119, 120, 121, 122).

Regarding the process of procurement and the installation of an IT system necessary for the efficient and transparent handling of requests for the provision of free legal aid, and the development and installation of an IT support system, it is also necessary to issue a public invitation to tender for the development of software and for the supply of the necessary hardware (Measure Nos. 129, 130 and 131).

During this period, activities of recruitment of new employees and professional training will be conducted (Measure Nos. 123, 124, 125, 126). A study visit under the TAIEX programme is also planned to countries that have a similar system of legal aid in order to improve the system of free legal aid in the Republic of Croatia (Measure Nos. 127, 128).

It is also important to inform citizens about the new free legal aid system, so an information campaign aimed at acquainting the public with the benefits provided by the Free Legal Aid Act is planned (Measure No. 133).

All these actions and measures have the single goal of making an efficient and high quality system of free legal aid in the Republic of Croatia for final beneficiaries who may use legal aid under the provisions of this Act from 1 February 2009.

In terms of free legal aid to the Roma community (Measure No. 46 of the previous AP), legal aid in status-related matters is provided to the Roma on an ongoing basis in the Counties of Sisak-Moslavina, Brod-Posavina, Osijek-Baranja, Međimurje, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, and in the City of Zagreb and in Zagreb County. For this purpose, the Ministry of Justice has concluded 35 contracts with attorneys in the areas of the said counties.

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required

Upgrading the current legal framework for the system of legal aid

117 (formerly 43)

Adoption of the Act on Free Legal Aid

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

118

Adoption of the Ordinance on the model form of the application for approval of the right to legal aid and of the statement of assets

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional
funds not required

119

Adoption of the Ordinance on the model form of referral

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional
funds not required

120

Adoption of the Ordinance on the method of keeping a record of procedures of legal aid provided

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional
funds not required

121

Adoption of the Ordinance on the register of associations for the provision of legal aid

MJ

III quarter 2008

Additional
funds not required

122

Adoption of the Regulation of the Government of the Republic of Croatia on the amount of award to attorneys

MJ/ Government of the Republic of Croatia

I quarter 2009

Additional
funds not required

Creating sufficient human resources required for the application of the Act

123

Recruitment of new employees in the MJ

MJ

IV quarter 2008

560,800.00 p.a. (salaries and transport costs for employees)

124

Recruitment of new employees in the state administration offices in the City of Zagreb and in Zagreb County

State administration offices in counties, City of Zagreb

IV quarter 2008

 9,823,652.00 p.a. (salaries and transport costs for employees)

Training of civil servants

125

Development of the training programme for civil servants

Central State Office for Public Administration in co-operation with the MJ

III quarter 2008

35,000

126

Implementation of the training of civil servants

Central State Office for Public Administration in co-operation with the MJ

IV quarter 2008

143,800

127

Study visit to countries with similar practice in providing FLA
(TAIEX)

MJ

II-III quarter 2008

Funds secured through TAIEX

128

FLA seminar for civil servants engaged in approving FLA
( TAIEX )

MJ

IV quarter 2008

Funds secured through TAIEX

Developing the software and procuring equipment

129

Issuing an invitation for public tender and selecting contractors for the development of software for FLA

MJ

II quarter 2008

Projected costs for the making of IT support is 707,200

130

Issuing an invitation for public tender for the supply of IT equipment

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional
funds not required

131

Procuring IT equipment

MJ (IT)

III quarter 2008

HRK 900,000
Note: MJ must procure the entire equipment to ensure system uniformity

132

Maintaining IT equipment

MJ (IT)

Continuously

511,200 p.a.

Raising public awareness

133
(rev. 45)

Running an awareness-raising campaign concerning the new system of legal aid

MJ, Central State Office for Public Administration, State administration offices in counties, courts

II – III quarter 2008

150,000

In the course of the implementation of the Strategy of the Reform of the Judicial System, several measures have been performed for the main purpose of improving the prison system. The measures primarily relate to the training of prison staff, but also to the improvement of prisoners' education and the legislative activity in the field concerned.

Prison staff undergoes constant training for work with prisoners, in particular for the implementation of special programmes for handling specific groups of prisoners through the organisation of additional training. The implementation of various forms of training for prison staff raises the level of their professional competence and thus of the prison security as a whole. As part of Measure No. 84 from the previous AP – Special training and education of staff for special groups of prisoners, a number of training programmes have been, and continue to be, implemented to improve the communication skills of prison staff and to train prison staff to resolve crises, as well as to train judicial police officials in applying medium-force coercive measures.

Measure No. 85 - Education of prisoners for occupations in short supply is being implemented in co-operation with the Croatian Employment Service, the purpose being to improve the chances of employment. This measure has become revised Measure No. 136.

With a view to ensuring easier access to data, changes are underway to the programme within Measure No. 81 from the previous AP, which has become revised Measure No. 134 - Database for the prison system.

Concerning legislative activity, it is important to mention the adoption of the Ordinance on amendments to the Ordinance on disposal of funds (OG 111/07), and the Draft Act on Enforcement of Criminal Sanctions and Measures against Juvenile Perpetrators of Crimes, which were submitted to the competent state bodies for their opinion before being submitted Government procedure.

In the Act on Amendments to the Act on Enforcement of Prison Terms (OG 76/06), the principles contained in international declarations and conventions relating to the treatment of prisoners, human rights and their protection have been incorporated. The said Act also enables the direct application of international standardising instruments, and in particular the adopted Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to Member States. Human rights are guaranteed to all prisoners. Along with the executive branch (Central Office of the Directorate for the Prison System), the judicial branch (the judges responsible for the execution of sentences within county courts) also monitors the protection of prisoners' rights.

In view of the continued rising trend in the number of prisoners, in particular in prisons and closed penitentiaries, steps have been taken to increase the accommodation capacity and to improve accommodation conditions (infrastructure) as part of Measure No. 83 of the previous AP - Intensive construction of accommodation capacities in Glina Penitentiary, for example, the completed adaptation and repair of the left wing of the accommodation structure of the so-called Boarding-house in Glina Penitentiary. This measure is incorporated in new Measure No. 145.

Goal

Number

Measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required

To improve the prison system

134
(formerly 81)

To update the database for the penitentiary system (prisoners)

MJ

2008

1,000,000

135
(formerly 82)

Special treatment programmes for specific groups of prisoners (for drug addicts, post-traumatic programmes, programmes for perpetrators of sexual offences / aggressive offenders)

MJ
(DPS – Central Office)

Continuously

500,000 p.a.

136
(rev. 85)

Education of prisoners in accordance with the national training programme

MJ
(DPS – Central Office)

Continuously

300,000 p.a.

To strengthen the legislative and institutional framework

137

Act on Enforcement of Criminal Sanctions and Measures Against Juvenile Perpetrators of Crimes

MJ

IV quarter
2009

23,500,000

138

Adoption of the Probation Act

MJ

IV quarter
2009

Additional funds not required

139

Adoption of the Amendments to the Ordinance on the method of performing activities in security departments in penitentiaries and prisons

MJ
(DPS – Central Office)

IV quarter
2008

Additional funds not required

140

Adoption of the Amendments to the Ordinance on the methods of applying coercive measures

MJ
(DPS – Central Office)

IV quarter
2008

Additional funds not required

To strengthen the human resources of the Directorate for the Prison System

141

Adoption of the Amendments to the Regulation on the internal organisation of the MJ and the Ordinance on the internal order with a view to establishing the Directorate for Probation, and recruiting 76 employees

MJ

Employment of 6 civil servants in the second half of 2008, 70 civil servants after the adoption of the Probation Act

7,420,000

142

Adoption of the Amendments to the Ordinance on the internal order of the MJ with a view to setting up 850 new work posts in the Directorate for the Prison System and recruiting the staff after the construction of the new Penitentiary and Prison in Šibenik and new facilities for the accommodation of prisoners in the Glina Penitentiary, Zagreb Prison and in the Prison Hospital.

MJ

After the construction of new capacities for the accommodation of prisoners

83,500,000

143

To train all categories of prison staff to raise the level of professional training for work in the prison system and to boost the level of prison system security

MJ
(DPS – Central Office)

Continuously

770,000

Infrastructure

144

Thorough development of the prison IT system:
- installation of a network in penitentiaries, prisons and correctional institutions and networking with the Central Office;
- implementation of the register of prisoners in the entire prison system,
- continued construction of financial-accounting IT programmes and their implementation in the entire prison system,
- construction and implementation of the IT programme for staff in the entire prison system

MJ

2008

100,000

2009

11,900,000

2010

2,920,000

145

Construction of a facility for accommodation of prisoners in the Glina Penitentiary (240), Prison Hospital (106), Zagreb Prison (300) and the new Penitentiary and Prison in Šibenik (400+200)

MJ

IV quarter 2012

952,000,000

146

Adapting and procuring equipment for a special penitentiary department for elderly prisoners and disabled persons in the Penitentiaries in Lepoglava, Lipovica-Popovača and Valtura

MJ

IV quarter 2009

1,130,000

The Republic of Croatia devotes special attention to war crimes trials. Based on the Act on the Application of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal, there are four war crimes departments in the County Courts in Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka and Split which have non-territorial jurisdiction in war crimes cases.
War crime cases referred by ICTY pursuant to Rule 11 bis are processed in front of courts of the Republic of Croatia, based on national indictments. The Republic of Croatia makes additional effort so that war crime proceedings are processed in accordance with European standards. Furthermore, the Republic of Croatian makes efforts to strengthen the integrity of the proceedings by taking care of witnesses, establishing support services for witnesses, assuring that any investigation that includes witness testimonies is confidential, providing an adequate defence counsel appointed by court decisions for those accused. The last assessment of the NGO involved in monitoring war crimes proceedings expresses that the present trials fulfil these standards. Therefore, this Action Plan focuses on the pending issues raised in the Round Table of 26 March 2008, such as the trials of the early 1990s regarding judgments passed in absentia.

Regarding the implementation of the measures included in the previous Action Plan, Measure No. 65 has been completed. This measure relates to the establishment of a special witness support unit within the Ministry of Justice. The Department for Support to Witnesses and Participants in War Crimes Proceedings, which was established in 2006, provides legal, physical and psychological support and assistance in finding and preparing witnesses and other participants and organising trips for them to main hearings and investigative hearings in war crimes proceedings conducted before courts both in and outside the Republic of Croatia. In 2008, it is planned to recruit two new employees (1 jurist and 1 psychologist) for the Department for Support to Witnesses and Participants in War Crimes Proceedings within the Ministry of Justice (Measure No. 147).
During the second half of 2006, the Department had the following contacts:

Legal support to witnesses was given in 115 cases, legal and psychological support was given in 120 cases. Trips were organised for 25 witnesses. 5 domestic witnesses were called to testify before courts in Republic of Croatia and 20 witnesses from the Republic of Croatia were called to testify in front of the County Court in Belgrade. For four of the witnesses, accommodation was assured in co-operation with the Department for Support to Witnesses and Victims of the County Court of Belgrade. All of the witnesses had physical support in co-operation with the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia.

In the first four months of 2008, the Department had contacts with 173 witnesses, as follows:

From its positive experience, the Ministry of Justice has recognised the importance of further strengthening of the Department. (Measure No. 147).

The Ministry of Justice was involved in the project of establishing and expanding the system of support to victims of crimes entitled "Support to Victims of Crimes". The Project resulted in the establishment of a support service in the County Court in Vukovar, and further services were also set up in the County Courts in Osijek and Koprivnica, and in the Municipal Courts in Vukovar, Županja, Ilok and Vinkovci.

Based on this positive experience, the Ministry of Justice is continuing its activities on a new project entitled "Support to Witnesses and Victims of Crimes". The formation of support services at four pilot courts – the County Courts in Osijek, Vukovar and Zadar, and the Municipal Criminal Court in Zagreb – will ensure co-ordinated work on providing various forms of support in co-operation with NGOs and other competent services and bodies which can provide help to the said categories of persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the county court (Measure No. 150).

With a view to the more successful implementation of court proceedings for war crimes, the Republic of Croatia, through amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act (OG 115/06), has codified video-link testimony in proceedings conducted in Croatian courts. On 12 January 2007, the Republic of Croatia also ratified the Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (OG 1/07), which entered into force for the Republic of Croatia on 1 July 2007. It includes provisions on the use of video links in cross-border conferences between Parties to the Protocol. Croatian courts use video-link testimonies, especially in war crimes proceedings. In the period ahead, an analysis will be made of the full compatibility of Croatian legislation with the provisions of the Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and there will also be workshops on the advantages of using video links in war crimes court proceedings (Measure Nos. 148 and 149). In the period from October 2007 to May 2008, video links were used in war crimes cases as follows:

In addition, in the Country Court of Vukovar, video links have with the USA been used three times for the training of judges on various subjects.

In terms of maintaining the integrity of witness testimonies and data secrecy connected with witnesses/informants, the current legislative framework has been strengthened through amendments to the relevant laws. In the pre-investigative phase, protection is included in the amended provisions of the Act on Data Secrecy (OG 79/07 of July 2007)) and the Act on the State Attorney’s Office, which stipulate that confidential data is any data relating to cases under the competence of the state attorney for youths, data in the pre-investigative procedure, and data classified as confidential by the state attorney, the disclosure of which might be detrimental to the effective implementation of the procedure. The amendments lay down heightened responsibility for maintaining data secrecy, so any violation of the obligation to keep such data confidential by the state attorney is a disciplinary offence. Considering that under the provisions of procedural law currently in force, the investigative procedure is not confidential, in all cases where such secrecy is necessary to protect the interests of the procedure, and in particular to protect endangered witnesses, the State Attorney's Office proposes that the investigative procedure be declared confidential. Whether the procedure is to be declared confidential or not is decided by the investigative judge.

In order to improve the procedure and, as mentioned, to maintain the integrity of witness testimonies and data secrecy, all persons who have any knowledge of the relevant case are obliged to keep the confidentiality of information regarding the case. The investigation has already been confidential for participants in the case. Furthermore, the proposal of the new Criminal Procedure Act prescribes the further strengthening of the integrity of the procedure by stating that the investigation is secret for everyone that, by any means, gains any information on the investigation (therefore, the obligation to maintain the secrecy of information extends even to persons that are not participants in the proceedings) (Measure Nos. 154 and 155). Violation of the provisions on the secrecy of the proceedings is punishable according to Article 305 of the Criminal Code. The Croatian Government has sent the proposal of the new Criminal Procedure Act for parliamentary procedure. The proposal stipulates that the systematic changes that relate to the investigation shall enter into force in 2011. It will be proposed that the provisions on the secrecy of investigation enter into force in 2009.

The Criminal Code includes the following criminal offences whose purpose is to protect victims/witnesses: obstruction of evidence under Article 304 of the Criminal Code, breach of confidentiality of proceedings under Article 305 of the Criminal Code, and revealing the identity of protected witnesses under Article 305a of the Criminal Code. The Act on Amendments to the Criminal Code of 2006 amended the provision relating to the criminal offence of revealing the identity of protected witnesses (Article 305a) to include in incrimination as the subject-matter of protection, along with the identity of the person included in the protection programme under a special law, the identity of the person with respect to whom the procedure was initiated. This means that the protection of the said persons was extended to include the time before the commencement of the criminal procedure within the meaning of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Regarding adequate defence by the appointed defence counsel under the current regulations of the Republic of Croatia, all attorneys have the duty to defend suspects in courts for all criminal offences, including war crimes. There are no criteria for selecting an appointed defence counsel. However, the Croatian legislation includes a solution based on which it is possible to sanction the inadequate work of the court appointed defence counsel. In 2007, in its regular meetings with county court presidents, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia pointed out the duty and obligation of the president of the court to release any court appointed defence counsel who performs his/her duties negligently and to appoint a new one (Article 67 of the Criminal Procedure Act). In 2007, the Croatian Bar Association established co-operation with the Judicial Academy in the field of the professional development of attorneys. In early November 2007, the Judicial Academy, in co-operation with the OSCE, organised further training for county judges in all county courts in charge of war crimes, which was attended by attorneys active in the field of defence in war crimes cases. In 2007, the Croatian Bar Association established the Attorneys' Academy for the professional development of attorneys who work on war crimes cases, amongst others, and who are interested in further training in this matter. To improve the quality of representation of the accused in war crimes proceedings, in 2008 the Croatian Bar Association will draw up a list of attorneys trained to provide defence in war crimes cases (Measure Nos. 157, 158, 159, 160 and 162). When they appoint defence counsels, the court presidents will follow the list of lawyers who have agreed to be put on that list and who have undergone training for representation in war crimes cases. Through the provisions of the amendments to the Court Rules of Procedure, court presidents will be obliged to appoint defence councils exclusively from the list (new Measure No. 160a). In order to enter a particular lawyer on the list, it will be necessary for the lawyer to undergo special training provided by the Attorneys’ Academy in co-operation with the Judicial Academy, provided that he/she has already gained certain experience in representation in war crimes cases (i.e. before the ICTY).

Regarding judgments passed in absentia, Article 412 of the Criminal Procedure Act lays down that a person convicted in absentia by a legally effective decision may apply for the renewal of the criminal procedure under the conditions stipulated by law. Whenever a person becomes available to the Croatian court, the decision on his/her application for the renewal of the proceedings is not subject to the discretionary evaluation of the court, but such renewal is guaranteed by law upon the request of the defendant. In any case, convicted persons have the right to apply for regular renewal of proceedings under Articles 405 and 406 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia forwarded an invitation to persons convicted in absentia to provide new evidence and to present new facts which might result in the renewal of proceedings and the adoption of a well-founded decision. In order to ensure the implementation of the principle of audiatur et altera pars, the State Attorney General of the Republic of Croatia issued an instruction to state attorneys to propose proceedings in absentia for war crimes cases only as an exception (Measure No. 156).

In the Republic of Croatia today, the institute of trial in absentia applies only in exceptional cases, as demonstrated by the trend of decrease in the number of judgements in absentia. In 1997 and 1999, ten judgements were passed for each of these years, while in 2004 there were two, and in 2005, only one. In 2006, there were no judgements in absentia.
Final judgements issued in absentia in the early 1990s were in one part evaluated by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia through the appellate proceedings, thus putting an end to the objection of their unlawfulness and lack of quality. Statistics provided by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia show that half of the sixty-eight (68) judgements in absentia were affirmed, that eleven (16.18%) were revised, and twenty completely vacated (29.41%), while three were partially vacated (4.41%). Still, in relation to certain judgements which were adopted in the 1990s, there are objections which can be regarded as justified. Therefore, the provisions of the new Criminal Procedure Act should foresee the possibility of renewing proceedings whenever the general conditions for the renewal are met, although persons convicted might still not be available to the court. It is intended, through the adoption of the new Criminal Procedure Act, that those accused in absentia will have the possibility for a renewal of the criminal procedure without the necessity to be present in person when requesting the renewal. This would create an efficient procedure for the revision of judgements in absentia from the early 1990s.

There are two different possibilities for renewing judgements rendered in absentia in the Republic of Croatia.

In the first case, if a procedure is to be renewed because the accused is now accessible to Croatian courts, it is not necessary to present new evidence and new facts. Upon a request of the accused, the court will permit the renewal on the basis of the compulsory legal provision. In such a case, the procedure starts from the beginning and the state attorney must prove that the accused had indeed committed the criminal offence in question. It is important to mention that when the accused becomes accessible to the Croatian court, he/she will be sent to serve the prison sentence issued in the final judgement in the previous proceeding. The serving of the prison sentence can last only a few days until the court decides on the request for renewal. On the basis of Article 410, paragraph 5 of the CrPA, when the decision that permits the renewal becomes final, the serving of the prison sentence will be terminated and the court will, upon a proposition of the State Attorney, order detention if the legal requirements are met. If the State Attorney does not propose the ordering of detention, the accused will defend himself without detention. Accordingly, it can be expected that these categories of accused persons will defend themselves without detention.

Secondly, in the event of a regular renewal, the person does not need to be present in the Republic of Croatia, but in that case it is essential that the person files a petition with the court for the renewal of the procedure in which the person must state the new facts or evidence to be used by the court to permit the renewal. The State Attorney's Office may also, if notified of new facts or evidence, file a petition for renewal to the court. The nature of the new facts and new evidence is assessed based on the facts of the case, and will be interpreted in favorem of the accused. First, the court discusses the new facts and new evidence, i.e. whether the legal requirements for renewal exist. If the court allows renewal, then the burden of proof lies on the prosecutor. Concerning the use of a video link, after the new evidence to be used by the court to permit the renewal is presented, in the repeated procedure the accused may testify via a video link. This can be very useful, because his/her defence could be important for adopting the court decision. The Croatian Government sought to present a new possibility for renewal through an explicit provision of the new CrPA which permits renewal even when the accused is not in Croatia. However, if there is no new evidence or new facts, in such cases renewal would be pointless given that the same judgement could be expected.

In order to avoid impunity for war crimes, special attention is given to regional co-operation. Here, the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia is particularly active, proposing new solutions for co-operation and an exchange of data in the region, but also with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. With that goal in mind, agreements on co-operation concerning war crimes have been signed with Serbia and with Montenegro. After the State Attorney General of the Republic of Croatia provided evidentiary material, the State Prosecutor of Montenegro assumed the prosecution of 10 accused. The evidence in 10 cases against 15 accused was provided by the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia to the State Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia. Serbian State Prosecutor assumed prosecution in 6 cases against 7 accused, of whom 5 persons are in custody, while in one case an indictment has been issued. Concerning co-operation with the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, co-operation takes the form of an agreement on mutual assistance in the pre-criminal procedure. An agreement on the exchange and presentation of evidence has not been concluded because of the standpoint of Bosnia and Herzegovina whereby all crimes committed within its territory ought to be processed before the competent courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Regional Conference of State Attorneys and Prosecutors held on Brijuni (July 2007) agreed on the preparation of comparable inventories/lists of initiated criminal procedures against persons reported for war crimes. Since 2003, the Republic of Croatia has held such lists, which include the first names, last names and personal data of the persons against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated and the stage which the criminal procedure has currently reached. According to the agreement, other countries in the region should also have compiled such lists.

Concerning the processing of still unresolved and unprocessed war crimes, one of the issues that must be resolved is data exchange to ensure efficient trials and to prevent manipulation of the number of persons against whom criminal proceedings were or will be initiated. In this regard, at the meeting held in Hvar on 5 October 2007, the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia proposed the compiling of a special database of war crimes.

In 2003, the State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia made a list of all criminal proceedings initiated from 1991 to 2003 for war crimes. In 2003, there were 3,600 persons accused of war crimes. In the meantime, with a view to obtaining an objective evaluation whether a criminal offence constitutes a war crime, the State Attorneys Office initiated a revision of this list. As a result, criminal charges were dropped in cases where there was no reasonable suspicion that a war crime had been committed by a certain person, or where a certain criminal offence was not a war crime. Consequently, on 1 April 2008 there were criminal proceedings initiated for war crimes against 1,293 persons. This very revision was the starting point for the creation of the database of war crimes.

It is a highly ambitious project to develop a database of war crimes committed in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, of data and evidence proving the crimes, of data on the perpetrators, and in cases where the perpetrators have already been processed, and of the basic data concerning their identity and the stage of the proceedings. The project is extremely demanding and complex and requires great effort by the state attorneys’ offices in the territory where the war crimes were committed. The first phase of the project should be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008, and it will be followed by an analysis and further work on the database. The database should be completed in the third quarter of 2008 and will indicate which data can be exchanged with other countries in the region, where secret data (witnesses being threatened and the like) are particularly significant.

The database of crimes committed on the territory of the Republic of Croatia during the war will allow for the overall situation to be evaluated with a view to assessing the justification of prosecution in specific cases and with regard to specific accused parties. The database contains a list of all crimes, including those committed by unknown perpetrators.

The first part of the database contains information on crimes, short factual descriptions of the crimes, information about the victims, witnesses and other available evidence for each particular case. The second part of the database contains basic information on the persons accused of committing the crimes.

The building of the database is currently in the first stage. After being collected, the information was analysed in order to avoid double entries, especially for those cases which might pertain to the same events or accused parties. In the coming two to three months, the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) will analyse the data pertaining to the consequences of each particular crime in order to assess for each specific case whether prosecution will continue or whether a statement will be issued on the withdrawal of prosecution. In the second stage, which is due to begin in the autumn, and which has already been initiated in some state attorneys’ offices, each war crime case will be linked to the entire documentation held by the SAO, including witness statements and video and audio recordings. Finally, the database should provide a complete insight into each crime, the number of victims, the evidence collected and the perpetrators prosecuted.

The database will facilitate the exchange of information with other countries and with the ICTY’s database, which is of particular relevance for confidential information (endangered witnesses, etc.)(Measure Nos. 164 and 165).

With a view to processing still unresolved and unprocessed war crimes, teams of state attorneys, the police and the secret services are now in place, formed to resolve the most serious war crimes. The State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia uses the same intensity of effort to identify all unknown perpetrators of war crimes, requiring the competent state attorneys’ offices to request other state bodies, including the police, to intensify their efforts in identifying the perpetrators of crimes. In 2008, inter-agency co-operation of Croatian bodies, and co-operation with the ICTY on the further resolution of the remaining unresolved/unprocessed war crimes will continue, so that new proceedings will be initiated or that those underway will be completed.

The Republic of Croatia is undertaking numerous measures to improve prosecutorial standards in war crimes proceedings. The starting point for defining whether war crimes were committed is the provisions of the Criminal Code. The State Attorney’s Office evaluates in each individual case whether the reported criminal offence fits the legislative description of a war crime pursuant to the Criminal Code and whether there is reasonable suspicion (according to existing evidence) that a war crime has been committed, irrespective of who committed the crime. In most of the cases, state attorneys have made a professional and high-standard evaluation. In line with this, the above-mentioned revision of all criminal proceedings initiated for war crimes has resulted in the dropping of charges by state attorneys against 1,403 persons and the court has acquitted 505 persons. Currently, a total of 1,293 (out of 3,600 from the beginning of the revision) war crimes proceedings are ongoing. The creation of the aforementioned database by the State Attorney’s Office is a step forward in this direction.

The State Attorney's Office has complied with several standards in approaching the revision of 3,600 indictments and requests for investigation. The Chief State Attorney has required all state attorneys to re-examine all war crimes indictments and investigative requests which were initiated in the early 1990s. In so doing, they were requested to make a narrow and strict interpretation of the legislative definition of a war crime criminal act. Furthermore, in cases of group indictments (indictments including, for example, the whole military unit which was present on the war crime scene), they were requested to individualise the indictments (that is, to reduce the indictments only to persons for whom reasonable suspicion existed that they had committed a concrete war crime criminal act.

Special attention in the indictments and requests for investigation revisions was requested to be paid to the difference between war crimes and crimes committed in war (for example, whether there were cases of murder, rape, theft or other criminal acts which were not connected with war crimes, or whether the crimes were so serious as to be considered as a war crime against civilians).

Finally, it was requested in the revision to ascertain if there was sufficient evidence for each accused person.

The result of the revision was a reduction in the number of indictments from 3,600 to 1,100. The State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia estimates that it is necessary to reconsider the still remaining cases and to make further examinations. Namely, the said number of indictments refer to 360 events, i.e. registered war crimes out of a total number of 715 registered war crimes. This means that a certain number of war crimes have not yet been processed.

It is the intention of the State Attorney's Office to make an in-depth analysis of every remaining indictment, and a further reduction in the number of indictments is expected. However, taking into account the said number of war crimes that have not yet been processed, the bringing of new charges in those cases can be expected.

Goal

Number

New measure

Competent authority

Time limit

Funds required

Strengthening the procedural position of witnesses/injured parties, strengthening the Department for Support in the Ministry of Justice and further development of the system of support to witnesses and victims in court

147

Strengthening the capacity of human resources of the Department for Support to Witnesses and Participants in War Crimes Proceedings in the Ministry of Justice (2 employees)

MJ

III quarter 2008

32,814 in 2008

148

Analysis of the compatibility of the Croatian legislation with the provisions of the Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters

MJ

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

149

Holding workshops on the advantages of having a video link in court proceedings for war crimes

JA

II quarter 2008

40,000

150

Implementation of projects with the UNDP and expanding and institutionally strengthening the system of support to witnesses and to victims of criminal offences and the introduction of a service for support to the witnesses and victims of crimes at four pilot courts

MJ,
courts

IV quarter 2009

5,823,787

151

Provision of support to the establishment and maintenance of the work of services for support to witnesses and victims in war crimes proceedings and those within the competence of the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK)

MJ

2010

2,400,000 p.a.

152

Encouraging witnesses/informers to report threats and acts of coercion

SAO

continuous

Additional funds not required

153

Amendments to the Court Rules of Procedure for the efficient and expeditious resolution of court proceedings initiated for criminal offences, aimed at protecting victims/witnesses.

MJ

III quarter 2008

Funds envisaged in measure 19

154

Prosecution of every act of divulging confidential information from the investigation, and increasing efficiency and speed in punishing these acts

SAO
courts

continuous

Additional funds not required

155

Stipulation of the secrecy of investigations in the CrPA, and replacement of the current institute of exclusion of the public

MJ

III quarter
2008

Funds envisaged in Measure No. 67

Strengthening the procedural position of the accused

156

Adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Act to enable the renewal of proceedings in cases where the general conditions for renewal are fulfilled, although the convicted persons are not available to the court

MJ

III quarter 2008

Funds envisaged in Measure No. 67

157

Conducting a poll of attorneys to determine their interest in providing defence in the criminal cases of war crimes

CBA

II quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

158

Training attorneys for defence in criminal cases of war crimes

Attorneys' Academy in co-operation with
JA

III quarter 2008

100,000

159

Drawing up a list of attorneys trained to provide defence in criminal cases of war crimes

CBA

IV quarter 2008

Additional funds not required

160

Submitting a list of attorneys trained and ready to work on cases of war crimes to all competent courts

CBA
MJ

IV quarter
2008.

Additional funds not required

160a

Amendments to the Court Rules of Procedure for defining the obligation of court presidents to adhere to the list of attorneys trained to provide defence in criminal cases of war crimes when appointing defence counsels

MJ (OPD)

III quarter
2008

Funds envisaged in Measure No. 19

161

Monitoring decisions as regards the appointment of ex officio legal representation in cases of war crimes and the quality of the representation

MJ
Presidents of courts CBA(ev.)

continuous

Additional funds not required

162

Amendments to the Tariff of Attorneys' Fees and Cost Compensation with a view to revising the fees and compensation of court appointed defence attorneys in the criminal cases of war crimes

CBA

III quarter 2008

In this moment it is not possible to asses necessary funds

Processing of still unresolved and unprocessed war crimes

163

Inter-agency co-operation between Croatian bodies, and co-operation with the ICTY concerning further work on the remaining unresolved/unprocessed war crimes

SAO

2008

100,000

164

Implementation of the first phase of the project of developing the database to include the lists of war crimes, records on victims and witnesses, and records of potential suspects

SAO

II quarter 2008

200,000

165

Analysis and further work on the database, making the information system and completion of work on the establishment of the database

SAO

III quarter 2008

500,000

1 County courts in Slavonski Brod, Zadar, Vukovar, Zagreb, Zlatar and Osijek.

2 Municipal courts in Ilok, Trogir, Velika Gorica, Makarska, Solin and Split.

3 The Misdemeanour Court in Zadar and the Misdemeanour Court in Trogir.