In many countries all over the world, judges have to disclose their finances and interests, often to the public and accessible online. The disclosures bring along an administrative burden for judges: they need to fill in a comprehensive set of data for themselves and for their immediate family members; they need to regularly update the data, ideally online, otherwise on paper; and, they need to accept that in most cases these asset declarations are available to the public online, with only sensitive data being redacted, such as addresses, bank account numbers, or number plates.
Judicial proceedings are often costly and time- and energy- consuming. The geographical situation of Indonesia as the largest archipelagic country in the world with a population of 278 million people certainly also plays a role and affects people's access to justice. Moreover, the number of cases to be dealt with are disproportionately high in relation to the number of court officials, thus causing public dissatisfaction with the court services and deterring people from seeking them. Should these conditions persist, there will be injustice as "justice delayed is justice denied".
To address these obstacles and challenges, the Supreme Court of Indonesia since 2004 has been implementing technology-based solutions to promote a modern, digital-based judiciary that responds to the demands and needs of the community in the era of fast-paced digitalization and digitization. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the transformation process by demanding the prompt reduction of face-to-face meetings and physical contact. Some of the technology-based solutions put in place in the Indonesian judiciary to date include: digital filing of documents; various online legal services; online trials; the online database of court decisions; or the digital supervision and reporting system.
Expressing one's opinion as a judge in the public space is a form of manifesting his or her freedom of speech, freedom that also implies a corresponding responsibility due to the function of administering justice that (s)he exercises. The public does not (always) distinguish between the judge and the (wo)man behind the robe. Inappropriate manifestations can have consequences not only for the professional reputation of the judge, but also for the public image of the judiciary and for trust in the act of justice. Therefore, before choosing as judges to express an opinion addressed to the general public or which can become public, we should answer a few questions.
Every day, judges across the world listen to evidence and make life altering decisions affecting their fellow citizens. Being a judge also carries with it the responsibility of becoming a community leader and living by a set of values that manifest through honesty, fairness and being just. As judges, we need to recognize that we must maintain our health in order to sustain our integrity as human beings. A judge who is healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually enhances their ability to access the wisdom necessary to render fairness and justice.
Trauma is inherent to the work of the judicial system; vicarious trauma and stress are natural by-products. Vicarious trauma has been defined as the cumulative inner transformative effect of bearing witness to abuse, violence and trauma in the lives of people who we care about, are open to and are committed to helping. Although vicarious trauma can be a natural and normal occurrence for workers who provide care to others, failure to address the causes and symptoms can lead to negative outcomes in one's life.
The ongoing efforts in the Bolivian judiciary on gender mainstreaming aim to contribute to the effective administration of justice in accordance with the existing ethical standards and judicial integrity. To this end, the Gender Committee of the Judiciary and the Plurinational Constitutional Court have been advocating and continue to promote substantive equality between men and women and the implementation of measures to combat inequalities in the administration of justice. We are already seeing the positive impact of the measures taken, and through this opinion piece we would like to share with you some of the good practices identified.
The first fundamental step towards gender equality in the justice system was the establishment of the Gender Committee within and for the Judiciary in 2013. The Gender Committee is composed of female magistrates from the highest courts of Bolivia, including the Judicial Council. Since its creation, the Gender Committee has become a consultative body in Bolivia for the articulation and promotion of positive actions to safeguard women's rights. A concrete example of its work and one of its main achievements has been the creation of the Institutional Policy on Gender Equality for the Judiciary of Bolivia, which is based on the experiences of other Latin American countries and promotes gender equality in the administration of justice.