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Promoting cooperation between the judiciary and the public in Croatia: the role of court and prosecutor’s spokespersons

Project facts

  • Funder: NL EVD International
  • Partner(s): Dutch Judicial Training Centre, Dutch Prosecution Service, Judical Academy in Zagreb
  • Project period: January 2010 – March 2011
  • For information mail to: office@nhc.nl

In 2006, the position of court spokesperson was introduced in Croatia. Court spokespersons are judges or court advisors who, next to their regular duties, inform public about the work of the courts and the proceedings in various cases. The NHC had already been involved in this issue in a previous project, “Strengthening the legal culture: improvement of the relations between the media and the judiciary”, which was carried out between 2004 and 2006.

One of the results then was the ‘Guidelines for Judiciary Spokespersons’, which was presented in January 2007. However, as the court spokespersons are all legal professionals, they have very little or no training in the field of public relations. This does not only create difficulties in their work, but also damages the perception of the Croatian judiciary in the public. Statistics reflect this need for more training: seventy-five percent of the spokespersons within the courts and prosecutors offices had never had any training at all.

The aim of this project was to increase the number of well trained court spokespersons, trainers and court reporters, who can then establish better cooperation between courts and citizens and improve the public’s perception of the Croatian judiciary. With that in mind, trainings were organized at varying levels to transfer the knowledge and experience of Dutch judges-spokespersons and prosecutor-spokespersons to their Croatian colleagues and some journalists. Staff members from the Croatian Judicial Academy were invited to the Netherlands, were they participated in a training of the trainers.

The project beneficiaries practised their media skills through assignments recorded on camera and through subsequent viewing and commenting of the recorded performances with (media) trainers and peers. Although the chosen method was quite demanding and at times quite confronting, the method proved very effective in further improving the Croatian judicial spokespersons’ ability to deal with the media. All parties involved consider the project a huge success and hope to further strengthen their relation through continued cooperation in the future.