An extensive meeting of Judicial-Legal Council was held with the attendance of heads of higher and appellate courts, chairmen of all courts in Baku, heads of judge associations, as well as representatives of NGO and media.
The meeting was held in Baku city Yasamal District Court where the different technological innovations are applied in test mode. Judges representing nearly80 courts from all regions joint the meeting by the method of videoconferencing by making live connection with Ganja city Nizami District Court that newly built and provided with modern ICTs, including Gadabay and Oghuz district courts and regional justice departments of Shirvan, Khachmaz and Shaki.
Making a speech Chairman of Judicial-Legal Council, the Minister of Justice Fikrat Mammadov informed that intensive development of Azerbaijan established by the great leader, is successfully continued under the leadership of honorable President and Azerbaijan got magnificent achievements in all fields of social life.
The consistent measures carried out on increasing the efficiency of justice and their progressive results were noted at the meeting and discussed the challenges ahead.
Informed that rapidly growing of the civil circulation caused increasing the number of appeals to courts year by year in Azerbaijan. Appeals to courts on civil cases increased13%, but on economic disputes up to 30% only in 2013. Generally, compared to 2000, when the new judicial system started its activity, the number of disputes of civil nature increased by 8 times. So it stipulated the reforms in judicial activity and complex measures were implemented in this field in accordance with the assignments given by the head of state since his leadership to Azerbaijan from the first days.
As a result of implemented sweeping reforms, the independent self-government bodies of judiciary - Judicial-Legal Council and Judges Selection Committeewere established and the democratic principles of permanent appointment of judges, evaluating their activities, disciplinary penalties were determined.Non-procedural communication of judges with citizens was prohibited in order to prevent corruption cases and publishing all decisions of higher courts, as well as cancelled or modified decisions of local courts, were determined in order to ensure transparency. The adoption of The Ethic Code defining specific ethics requirements for judgesadoptedby Judicial-Legal Council and progressive rule for objective division of works in courts played a significant role.
Only in recent years, up to 20 new regional courts, including appeal courts, courts on grave crimes, administrative-economic courts started to activate in order to facilitate people s accessibility to courts. The staff number of judges was double and thestaff number of court was increased by 75%, each judge was given an assistant in accordance with the international experience.
70 judges were removed from the judicial system for their gross violations and other negative cases and 161 disciplinary proceedings of judges were initiated by principally evaluating their activity.
The determination of judge candidates selection rule in Azerbaijan on the basis of most progressive experience in Europe, taking 1-year of theoretical and experiential courses in the Justice Academy, as well as courses in foreign countries in order to prepare for judge posts by candidates who successfully passed the multistage exams, played significant role in the formation of judge corps at the expense of well-prepared lawyers.
The selection procedures implemented 4 times on the basis of these progressive rules, were observed by the representatives ofmany local and international organizations and diplomatic corps. The examinations were broadcasted live online mood for the first time in the history of personnel selection of Azerbaijan. All observers gave positive opinions relating to transparency and objectivity of examinations, reputable international institutions, including European Commission for Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe (CEPEJ) and European Union recommended to study Azerbaijani experience in this area.
307 lawyers from 2600 candidates were selected and appointed to judge posts on the basis of these procedures, a positive opinion was formed relating to selection process of judges in the society. Currently, 60% of all judge corps constitute exactly this new generation of judges.
Improvement of judges financial security also didn t stay out of sight. Compared to 2000, their wages was increased by 33 times, as well as it was significantly increased last year and additional safeguards were taken into account for young judges.
Within the Project of “Modernization of judicial system” which is implemented jointly with Azerbaijan and considered as one of the most successful projects of the World Bank, new administrative buildings for Baku city Yasamal District, Ganja city Nizami and Gadabay District Courts were constructed meeting the latest requirements. The construction of Shaki Court Complex has been started. As well as, the construction of court complex in Baku city Sabunchu districtwhich will be located 2 courts and new buildings for Baku city Binagadi, Guba, Gabala, Imishli district courts, was started and 30 new court buildings were designed last year.
Special attention is given to the organization of work process and facilitating citizens accessibility in all these buildings according to international requirements, the audio-video recording systems, necessary infrastructure to carry out video-conferences and presentations and electronic document management, is created. Modern security systems are installed and non-procedural relations with citizens are prevented.
Measures on improving the judiciary was kept on successfully also in 2013 and necessary decisions were adopted relating to increasing the efficiency of justice.
Comprehensive analysis was conducted in order to improve the self-government activity of judiciary by taking into account the international experience and made some progressive modifications to the legislation last year. According to the new legislation, the action mechanism of the Council was modernized, additional safeguard of judges independence was determined, self-government functions of judiciary were enlarged and the institution of judges posting was assigned for the first time.
The activities of 101 young judgeswas learnt and evaluated on the spot whose terms of service has been expired in 2013, 30 judges of them were pull ahead to appellate court, 2 judges to the Supreme Court and 6 persons were appointed to chairman of court, 64 persons were appointed to other judge posts. Having unsatisfactorily evaluated the activities of 4 judges revealing that they create conditions for gross violations of law and corruption cases while learning their activity, their authority has been terminated and 3 chairmen of court were transferred to the lower position.
Taking into accountrecruitment of the vacancies existed in the courts of higher instance, 8 experienced judges were pull ahead to the Supreme Court and 17 persons to the courts of appeal.
In addition to that, selection process of judge candidates was successfully completed, 72 judge candidates finished all examinations, training period which continued for a year and a half-month internship in the courts, as well as abroad relating tohuman rights and they were appointed to the various judge posts.
As a result of these appointments implemented in 2013, the vast majority of existing vacancies were recruited, so it served todecreasing of workload significantly and prevention of the procrastination cases.
It should be noted for comparison that if 45 judges actually activated in the district courts of Baku in 2007, after implemented consistent measures, including conducted recent appointments, this number has been 101. The number of judges of appellate courts amounted to 120 from 44 and the number of judges of the Supreme Court to 41 from 27.
nlarged regional meetings were held in Baku city, Lankaran, Guba, Shaki, Khachmaz and Imishli districts with the attendance of judges newly appointed by the chairmen of Judicial-Legal Council and the Supreme Court. At the meetings stressed that catching the honorable title of judgelofty and having careful attitude towards citizens are the most important duties of a judge. Getting acquainted with the working conditions of district judges on the spot, relevant instructions and recommendations were given.
Significantly increasing the number of cases on civil nature entering to courts has reached to 180 thousands in 2013 and the number of secured claims in the courts of first instance has increased and reached to 93% on civil cases, 95% on economic disputes and 80,5% on administrative disputes so that is the result of positive impact of purposeful measures that implemented on improving the judicial activity, to increasing the belief in courts in society and accessibility to judiciary.
It should be noted that parties agreed with 88,5% of final decisions on all civil cases and 70% of judgments on criminal cases, in other words, it wasn t appealed or made a protest for these cases. But generally, 96,4% of final decisions on civil cases of the courts of first instance and 90,2% of judgments were remained stable.
Taking into account the importance of judges training in eliminating the judicial errors, a series of training courses were organizedcovering up to 300 judges and court employees in 2013 with the attendance of reputable international organizations, well-known experts and experienced judges of the courts of high instance.
As well as, having stressed at the meeting, the assignments of the head of state relating to careful attitude towards citizens and the most ruthless measures of struggle against corruption, Chairman of the Council pointed out the duties on correctly following the rules of ethical conduct, improving the culture of anti-corruption, resolutely preventing the cases that disgracing the title and reputation of judge.
It was noted that disciplinary proceedings were initiated against 13 judges, including judgeship authorities of 2 persons were terminated and 5 persons were dismissed in a disciplinary rule within the measures on improving the judicial activity in 2013.
Making a speech at the meeting, Chairman of the Supreme Court Ramiz Rzayev touched to the characteristic defects made by the courts and stressed the measures on elimination of these defects, promotion the reputation of the judiciary, identifying additional mechanisms in this field and formation of the unified judicial practice.
As well as, the duties were discussed at the meeting arising from the Decree of Presidentof the Republic of Azerbaijan on creation of “e-Court” information system and noted that the Decree established the revolutionary evolution by identifying the strategic priorities.
Within 2013 – the year of ICT, the application of modern technological innovations, including electronic document circulation and management, programs of “SMS notification” in the courts and creation of unified internet portal of judicial system which is very useful for citizens, were noted. The technological management programs applied in test mode was demonstrated in Yasamal District Court and stressed that the application of this program would significantly facilitate judges work. Creating favorable conditions for citizens, it would provide thorough electron informing of them about all levels of court proceedings.
Making a speech the head of the Department on Work with Law-Enforcement Agencies of President Administration Fuad Alesgerov noted the importance of holding the meeting of the Council in new format, transparently and with the attendance of representatives of civil society and covering all regions of the Republic by the method of videoconferencing. He informed that decisive assignments of the head of state on tightening the struggle against corruption and strengthening the control, as well as the Decree on creation of “e-Court” information system put important duties ahead and in creation of “e-Court” information system, he noted the experimental importance of the technological innovations applied in test mode and the working method of “ASAN” service which is considered as an important anticorruption remedy all over the world.
The representatives of non-governmental organizations and judges attending the meeting by the method of videoconferencing, stressed the important role of application of technological innovations in judicial activity and put forward concrete proposals on increasing the efficiency of activity.
At the same time, appeals of the Ministry of Justice, Supreme and appellate courts were reviewed at the meeting of Judicial-Legal Council on the defects made by the judges and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against 10 judges for creating conditions for corruption by committing artificial barriers to the implementation of citizens rights and creating conditions for procrastination and other law violations.