SOUTH ASIA: No rule of law without independence of judges and lawyers

Date: June 16, 2014
Document id: ALRC-COS-26-19-2014

HRC section: Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Independence of judges and lawyers
Speaker: Mr. MOON JeongHo

An Oral Statement to the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

SOUTH ASIA: No rule of law without independence of judges and lawyers

Thank you Mr. Vice-President,

The Asian Legal Resource Centre(ALRC) and its partners welcome the report (A/HRC/26/32) presented by Madam Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. We appreciate the efforts made by the Rapporteur to ensure the rule of law is upheld through judicial accountability and independence. Yet, realities suggest there is a long way to go.

The incumbent Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India is being investigated for corruption. In its investigation, the Income Tax Department has revealed that immediate relatives of the Chairperson have amassed sums of money for which they have failed to show legitimate sources. The transactions relate to a period when the Chairperson was serving as the Chief Justice of India. This is not the first instance where strong evidence of judicial corruption at the Supreme Court of India has become public knowledge.

On the other hand, in Sri Lanka, the incumbent government has summarily dismissed the country’s Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, in what has proven to be a pre-scripted and politically motivated dismissal, under the fabricated charge of corruption.

In Bangladesh, justice institutions remain under the absolute control of incumbent governments and the government uses the judiciary and prosecution system to falsely accuse, charge, and convict human rights defenders, including prominent human rights lawyers, like Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan.

In Pakistan, due to lack of accountability, the judiciary often exceeds its mandate and interferes with the principle of separation of powers. In Nepal, the basic infrastructure necessary for the judiciary to function does not exist.

Survivors of human rights abuse in Asia continue to be denied redress since justice institutions in the region are unable to perform adequately. Lawyers who defend the rights of victims are at risk.

Madam Special Rapporteur,

What additional steps will you take to ensure judicial independence in states where the core principles of the rule of law are either amiss or non-existent?

I thank you Mr.Vice-President.

Chapter 14 of Webcast:

About ALRC

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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