Byrnes: US Embassy donates technical equipment to the Criminal Court for strengthening the rule of law

The United States Embassy has donated technical equipment for audio recording of court hearings in 25 courtrooms within the Skopje-based Criminal Court.

US Ambassador Kate Byrnes said Wednesday this is an important step in the strengthening of the rule of law in the country.

“This equipment increases the transparency and efficiency of hearings. It increases the public trust in institutions. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers will be able to focus on what they are saying and hearing instead of taking notes. The existence of an audio recording increases the fairness and accuracy of proceedings,” said Byrnes.

President of the Criminal Court Ivan Dzholev said the rule of law requires permanent investment.

“The judicial system was not highly rated in the past, primarily bi citizens. However, we are continually changing this perception. True friends are there when you need them the most. Such is the case with the U.S. Embassy, which lent a hand and helped us,” said Dzholev.

Starting today, court hearings in the Criminal Court will be recorded and the written records are replaced by audio records that will directly enter into the Automated Court Case Management Information System (ACCMIS).

In practice, the courts’ obligation to submit written records is to be replaced by issuing an audio CD after the end of the hearing. This should contribute to the efficiency of proceedings, since it is a common practice that court stenographers cannot take down everything that lawyers, prosecutors, witnesses or defendants say, which is afterwards used as a reason for repetitions or delays.