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How citizens evaluate quality of courts in Kherson region
Project Manager Oksana Glebushkina (left) and Chairman of New Generation" Olga ZhukovaPhoto by Oksana Siliukova, New Generation
Project Manager Oksana Glebushkina (left) and Chairman of New Generation" Olga Zhukova

What is to be done to make courts more accessible and comfortable for visitors and legal information more comprehensive and clear? These are the questions the public and judges of Kherson region discussed on June 16 during the presentation of the results of the survey of visitors to courts in Kherson region, held by the youth public organization "New Generation" in partnership with CF "CCC Creative Center" (Kyiv).

The presentation was attended by representatives of local and specialized courts, Kherson region, territorial administration of the State Court Administration, representatives of the legal community, the regional Center for secondary legal aid and local civil society organizations.

In 2015 courts of Kherson region for the first time took part in the survey program for visitors to courts, which is intended to explore the real picture of the enjoyment of the citizens of judicial services. From November to December visitors to courts through a specially designed questionnaire had the opportunity to evaluate their activity on such parameters: the physical accessibility of the court, the convenience and comfort of the court, the availability, completeness and clarity of legal information, the quality of work of court personnel, meeting deadlines of the trial, the quality of work of judges, the quality of writing and the justification of judicial decisions. The survey was conducted by volunteers of the youth organization "New Generation" and its partners – CF "Saint Olga" (Hola Prystan) and Bilozerka district center “Youth center for regional development”.

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Photo by Oksana Siliukova. Participants present the results of the survey of visitors to courts in Kherson region

The Project Manager Oksana Glebushkina told about the main results:

"The participants of the survey evaluated the performance of 22 local and specialized courts in Kherson region. Average rating of the quality of courts of 22 courts of the region ranges from 3.5 to 4.8 points. This indicates a certain level of satisfaction. More problematic issues were recorded in the issues of accessibility of the court and the conditions of stay. Also, visitors to courts expressed a desire to improve the quality of their work, specifying, among the most important ones the need to respect the timing of the start of trial. The convenience and comfort of stay in court requires an increase in the number of specially equipped places for work with documents and expectations, improving lighting in the courtroom, ensuring free WI-FI areas, free access to the wardrobe. Also courts were recommended to provide advice for those applying to the court for the first time and create opportunities to receive free secondary legal aid to people who cannot afford legal fees".

Judges who took part in the event shared their impressions of the survey's process and results. Dmytro Kostennikov, Chief of the staff of the Appeal Court of Kherson region noted that they appreciated the cooperation with the NGO. And the survey results confirmed the results of the internal assessment. Moreover, during this time, after the survey the issue of access to court has already decided. In particular, curbs around the courthouse were reconstructed, which now allow customers in wheelchairs to reach the room without interference.

Galyna Mors'ka, the judge-speaker of the Kherson regional administrative court noted that the evaluation by a public organization allows to take a detached view of the court and to take into account the expectations of court users. This, in turn, provides an opportunity to improve the quality of services offered by the court. And all courts should be used to perceiving them as an institution that provides litigation services.

The Director of the regional center for free secondary legal aid Maryna Yeliseeva reported about 16 offices of the Legal Aid Bureau, which in the near future are planned to create in Kherson region. They will provide free legal aid.

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Photo by Oksana Siliukova. The Director of the regional center for free secondary legal aid Maryna Yeliseeva tells about 16 offices of the Legal Aid Bureau.

“The methodology implemented by the USAID Fair Justice Project has proven its effectiveness, and now more and more courts want to use it. The method of implementation of the external evaluation of courts based on citizen report cards (hereinafter - CRC) was suggested by the Ukraine Rule of Law USAID Project in 2008 and approved by public organizations in collaboration with the pilot trials. Since October 2011, the USAID Fair Justice Project continued support for the application of the methodology by CSOs, thus till 1 July 2015 the survey was conducted in 49 courts of 15 regions of Ukraine”, noted Maryna Rudenko, USAID Fair Justice Project’s civil society expert.

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Photo by Oksana Siliukova. The Chairman of the Youth center for regional development Ella Petrenko (left) and Maryna Rudenko, USAID Fair Justice Project’s civil society expert.


Reference
USAID Fair Justice Project works in Ukraine since October 2011. The project builds on the achievements of the previous Ukraine Rule of Law USAID Project that was implemented from May 2006 to September 2011. The goal of the project is to promote the rule of law in Ukraine through support to the judicial reform, increasing transparency and accountability of the judicial system, improving citizens' legal awareness and increasing public confidence in the judiciary. More detailed information about the USAID Fair Justice project on the official website http://www.fair.org.ua or by phone +38 (044) 581-3303.
The American people through http://www.usaid.gov the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for over 50 years. In Ukraine, USAID provides assistance in areas such as: economic development, democracy and governance, health and social sector. Since 1992 the United States Agency for International Development has provided Ukraine with technical and humanitarian assistance in the amount of $ 1.7 billion. More detailed information about USAID programs in Ukraine on the official website of USAID http://ukraine.usaid.gov and on Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USAIDUkraine.

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