This section contains opinion pieces written by Global Judicial Integrity Network participants, who are members of judiciaries worldwide. The pieces focus on the personal opinions and experiences of these external experts on issues related to judicial integrity. All opinion pieces written in 2018-2019 have been compiled in one review journal, available here.
Please note that all opinions expressed in this section of the website are the opinions of the authors, who are external experts, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.
The rule of law is arguably the most basic requirement of any civilized society, and an independent judiciary, to which access is available to all citizens, is an essential ingredient of the rule of law. Freedom of expression is also fundamental in a democratic society, in which the courts and the media have vital and complementary institutional roles. Together, they hold power to account, enforce the rights of individuals and shed light on matters of public interest - and they also monitor each other. The media have been described as the watchdogs of democracy, highlighting democratic deficits and demanding accountability from elected officials. And judges have no more important role than to hold the Government to account when it does not adhere to the law and to uphold the rights of individuals. And there is no more vital right than freedom of expression.
On 12 March 2020, the Norwegian Government implemented the strictest and most invasive measures ever introduced in Norway in peacetime in the hopes of stopping or slowing down the spread of COVID-19 infections. The courts quickly had to address how best to handle their role in society in a prudent manner. It was quickly realized that something had to be done to find alternatives to physical court sessions. For most court cases, alternative ways for processing the cases were considered: either in writing, as remote sessions or as a combination of both.
Florida's official nickname is "The Sunshine State" because of its warm weather throughout the year, but to those who work with Florida's government, it is considered "The Sunshine State" because of the public's access to Florida's branches of government. Any citizen can simply make a public records request to obtain information about almost any activity of Florida's government. This access to information includes Florida's judiciary and certain disciplinary actions. In fact, cases of judicial misconduct where probable cause has been found and formal charges filed are published on the website of the Supreme Court of Florida.
Created in 1966 by amendment of the Florida Constitution, the Judicial Qualifications Commission ("JQC") is an independent state agency tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct and disability by all judges within the state of Florida.
A woman's road to accessing justice was already precarious prior to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Across the world, an estimated 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 years were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. A portion of these women form part of the 2.5 billion who are deprived of various forms of legal protections.
The crisis has brought the resilience of justice systems into sharp focus, with resources being diverted away from the justice sector towards more immediate public health measures. Institutions and services such as the courts, hotlines, crisis centres, legal aid clinics and social welfare services are being scaled back in many countries. Justice institutions have also been compelled to operate differently. Courts are prioritizing "exceptionally urgent" cases and placing restrictions on in-person appearances.
The French National School for the Judiciary ( École Nationale de la Magistrature - ENM) was created in 1958 to train both judges and public prosecutors. The School simultaneously trains three classes ("promotions") of about 350 students for 31 months.
Trainee judges and prosecutors from Promotion 2018 were taking their final exams before choosing their first positions, while students from Promotion 2019 were beginning a key step in their training in the form of a year-long judicial internship in one of the 173 French courts. As for the students of Promotion 2020 that had just entered the School in February 2020, they were about to begin a 9-month period of study at the School in Bordeaux.