Organized by the Canadian Ministry of Justice, the OECD, and the Global Open Government Partnership Initiative, an online conference entitled ” Global Dialogue of Justice Leaders – Equal Access to Justice in Times of Crisis” was attended by several justice ministers from around the world, who discussed and shared experience on the challenges and dealing with the consequences of the pandemic in the judiciary.
The pandemic, as well as the financial and economic implications it has caused, but also the challenges faced by societies in socio-political terms, has posed a serious challenge to justice systems around the world. The pandemic made inequalities visible in the context of justice, and also placed the justice system and the judiciary at the forefront of tackling the pandemic by creating and implementing measures that restricted the right to free movement, all to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
At the conference, the Minister of Justice, Bojan Maricic, addressed the measures taken by the Republic of North Macedonia regarding the protection of the health of all stakeholders in the proceedings before the courts and prosecutor’s offices. Minister Maricic stressed that through government decrees during the state of emergency, courts and prosecutor’s offices acted only on emergency cases, as well as those at risk of obsolescence, but that certain courts took the opportunity to continue holding hearings online. At the same time, Maricic emphasized that in one case of online trial, all stakeholders to the proceedings before the court were present from different cities, and the defendant was present from custody, which according to the Minister proved to be quite effective and in the interest of all parties in the proceedings.
In terms of access to justice for all citizens, North Macedonia is actively involved in the Open Government Partnership and is the only country in the Western Balkans committed to improving access to justice, especially for marginalized groups in society. Given the need for greater openness of judicial institutions and restoring citizens’ trust in the judiciary, Maricic announced that North Macedonia would launch a new chapter of the Open Government Partnership and would support the preparation of the first Action Plan for Open Judiciary.
—————————————————20 October 2020