Sunday, September 09, 2007

Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Leandro Despouy, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, recently released a report to the UN General Assembly on threats to the judiciary and to lawyers around the world.

"It is based on an analysis of the Special Rapporteur’s many involvements from 1994 to 2006. One of the conclusions he has reached is that the judicial actors in the majority of countries are unable to discharge their functions independently and — all too frequently — find that their own and their families’ protection and safety are jeopardized. In this regard, he urges States to adopt specific measures to guarantee these persons’ security and independence. He also urges the United Nations to attach priority to the defence of justice in its analysis of institutional matters and to give precedence to the justice sector in its support and technical cooperation activities".


"Threats, intimidation and acts of aggression directed against lawyers accounted for 17 per cent of communications issued by the Special Rapporteur; the corresponding figure for judges and prosecutors was 4 per cent. Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment accounted for 26 per cent of communications concerning lawyers and 4 per cent of those concerning judges and prosecutors. Assassinations of lawyers, judges and prosecutors accounted for 4 per cent of the total number of communications. In some countries, the level of violence was especially high. For example, in one Latin American country, the Office of the Special Rapporteur recorded the assassination of 16 employees of the judicial system, 63 cases of threats, 2 abductions and 2 cases of exile between January 2005 and August 2006. In one Asian country, no fewer than 15 lawyers and 10 judges were assassinated with impunity between 2001 and mid-2006. The authorities do not always provide sufficient protection or a clear condemnation of these criminal activities, which often go unpunished".

The former U.N. Commission on Human Rights established the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in 1994. The mandate encompasses all aspects related to the structure and functioning of the judicial system and their impact on the enjoyment of human rights. This covers issues such as corruption, equal access to fair proceedings, the level of financial allocation and independence of the judiciary, and ways in which judges are being appointed and removed.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:01 pm


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