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Public Relations in Courts – Two-Day Workshops in Belgrade and Novi Sad

04 12 2019

Public Relations in Courts – Two-Day Workshops in Belgrade and Novi Sad

In 2018, USAID Rule of Law Project supported the initiative of the president of the High Court Council and the Supreme Court of Cassation and developed a 2018-2022 Communication Strategy for the HCC and the Courts. This Strategy has, for the first time, envisaged measures for improving transparency and public relations in courts themselves, and not only in the High Court Council. The Strategy was adopted in November 2018.

In order to bring the measures outlined in the Strategy to life, the Project worked with the High Court Council on the development of the Action Plan for the Strategy implementation and identifying key messages that they as an institution should use in address in the public and improving the public perception of the Council and its role in the Serbian judiciary.  For the same reason, in November and December, we’ve held two two-day workshops for the court PRs/media coordinators from appellate, higher, and basic courts from the Belgrade and Novi Sad appellate jurisdiction.

The workshops in Belgrade (November 14 and 15) and Novi Sad (December 3 and 4) gathered the main communication stakeholders from the two regions and allowed the Project to gain direct insight into their understanding of the public relations and the objective challenges they are faced with daily in doing their job. The first day of the workshop was focused on the topics of the current situation regarding the communication with both media and the public, as well as communication on-line and discussing some of the best practices in these areas both locally and globally.

Through group work we managed to obtain insight into how court PRs as people doing the actual job in their courts perceive important segments of communication and public relations as well as how they view potential capacity building and practical improvements. The conclusion is that experienced court PRs have a pretty good grasp on the challenges they are facing daily and how their efforts could be improved. The most important conclusions that we have jointly arrived at are the following:

  • there is a need for proactive communication
  • court decisions should be written in a language comprehensible to the general public
  • contextual placement of information is necessary, especially at the internet presentation of courts
  • importance of internal communication – court staff is one of the key sources which can affect the public image of the courts
  • social media as an important factor influencing the public perception of the judiciary
  • importance of regular peer-to-peer meetings for court PRs

The initiative outlined in the Communication Strategy related to the creation of the network of court PRs as a mechanism for continuous peer-to-peer knowledge and experience exchange was also presented to the workshop participants.

Second day of the workshop was dedicated to the training on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – freedom of speech. Judges Zorana Delibašić and Gordana Komnenić presented the latest case law of the European Court of Human Rights as well as several case studies and the methodology for applying the tripartite test.

The Project organized these workshops in cooperation with the Judicial Academy. Two more will be held in Niš and Kragujevac at the beginning of next year.

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