The global COVID-19 pandemic is bringing to the forefront the weaknesses of criminal justice systems across the globe to ensure access to justice. Many states have resorted to closing courthouses and delaying proceedings as social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus. A key common feature of these measures is to keep defendants away from courthouses and even away from their lawyers. However, a defendant's right to be tried in person in an open court is a fundamental component of the right to a fair trial enshrined in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is an international court headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago. The CCJ has both a Community treaty jurisdiction (much like the European Court of Justice does for Europe), and a final appellate jurisdiction to which four Caribbean states currently subscribe. Its complement extends to 80 staff members, including seven judges. In response to COVID-19, the court adopted special measures to protect the health and safety of staff and judges, while continuing to guarantee access for court users.
The justice sectors in Council of Europe member states have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Special arrangements have been introduced in most systems in order to respect the need for social distancing, while at the same time delivering a minimum level of service in cases where postponement would have particularly harmful implications. This is the case notably as regards proceedings involving children, custody, domestic violence and detention. This responsiveness is to be welcomed.
COVID-19 has been traveling rapidly since December last year. Carried by millions of tourists and expanding, first, to Europe, the United States and then the rest of the world. At the beginning gradually and imperceptibly, then exponentially. The WHO declared it a pandemic on 11 March 2020 when the number of infected people was "only" 118,000 and the number of deceased people, 4,291. With over 3.5 million people infected and over 250,000 dead as of the day of this writing, the world has built new frontiers and is becoming unrecognizable.
Croatia is one of the more than forty jurisdictions that have agreed to become training sites for the implementation of the UNODC Judicial Ethics Training Tools , with the aim to enhance judges' integrity and contribute to the fight against corruption in the judiciary at the global level. Training activities on judicial ethics are already regularly included in the annual programmes of the Croatian Judicial Academy (JA), which is the national public institution in charge of initial and continuous judicial training.