Women bear a disproportionate brunt of health crises, environmental disasters and gender-based violence. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 global pandemic could follow this pattern-having devastating implications for women's access to justice. What are courts and governments doing to address these challenges?
As the pandemic unfolds, heads of judiciaries are constantly weighing options in order to make the best decisions. In Uganda, the Chief Justice has issued directives to suspend court hearings and appearances. At the Africa regional level, Justice Sylvain Oré, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights issued a statement on 23 March 2020 suspending the 56 th Ordinary Session of the court and making "non-essential" staff work remotely, while "essential" staff work on rotation to promote social distancing.
The terrible time we are living in with the coronavirus pandemic poses arduous challenges for those who work in the judicial system. The worldwide extent of the Covid-19 crisis has confronted us, again in our history, with the eternal fragility of humanity.
The International Association of Judges (IAJ) represents associations of 92 countries from five continents. The global dimension of our organization implies a particular obligation to reiterate the grave duties of judges in relation to this pandemic.
Judicial immunity has always been a highly relevant issue for judges around the world. In recent years, however, judicial immunity has become an even more crucial, even existential , question for judges in many countries .
Under the rule of law, a fair system of appeals must be installed to ensure that judicial decisions can be challenged by anyone who might be negatively affected by them. This purports to rectify mistakes as much as possible. On the other hand, judges must be able to make their decisions without fear of being sued or prosecuted. While it is generally accepted that there are limitations to the concept of judicial immunity, such as willful breaches of the law or human rights violations, judicial immunity is an indispensable pillar of judicial independence.
Judging from the eager interactions of so many judges and judicial experts gathered under one roof in Doha last week, the importance and appeal of UNODC's Global Judicial Integrity Network, launched in Vienna in 2018, continues to grow. During a three-day high-level meeting held under the patronage of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, Chief Justices and senior judges from around the world debated the hottest judicial integrity-related topics affecting their remits, and the myriad challenges facing judiciaries in their quest to apply justice.
Judges are the public face of justice and of the rule of law. As such, they have a duty to live up to the highest standards of integrity and impartiality in order to preserve public trust in what is a most fundamental pillar of democracy.
Codes of conduct are a pivotal instrument to translate core values into behavioural norms. They do not only have an aspirational nature, showing the best path to resolve ethical dilemmas, but they must also be effectively implemented in practice. In keeping with safeguarding judicial independence, implementation must come first and foremost from within the judiciary itself.