Virtual means offer alternative solutions to direct, personal contact when it is not possible, especially nowadays given the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, there is the risk that the apparent advantage of virtual systems may create a false sense of effective communication. Virtual media, which was originally an exceptional and transitory instrument for the administration of justice, may become the general rule. As a consequence, this could lead to a depersonalization of the parties in a trial and a dehumanization of the trial itself.
Therefore, the right question is whether it is appropriate to continue to use virtual platforms in court proceedings in the "new normal" after the pandemic. Furthermore, we need to consider whether it is ethical to deliver judgements electronically, without personal contact and at a distance, and if so, how this form of remote justice is compatible with the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
No industry, sector, or profession is immune to misconduct. And while the vast majority of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other legal professionals are law-abiding and honest, some are not. Unfortunately, those exceptions can often threaten the integrity and the perception of the judicial system as a whole and undermine the public's trust in it.
Few things can be more destabilizing than corruption of and in the judicial system, including its damaging consequences to ordinary citizens and the insidiousness with which it can taint the highest levels of power. Judicial corruption undermines public confidence in the judicial system, in particular, and in public institutions, more broadly, and operates as a gateway or free-pass for other types of wrongdoing. That is precisely why judicial integrity is a common goal across all jurisdictions and has been among the priorities of the International Bar Association (IBA) in recent years.
Combating corruption effectively is essential to guarantee human rights, as citizens' confidence in the judicial system, judicial independence and access to fair justice is at stake. As Anne Peters emphasizes, "corruption in the administration of justice jeopardizes basic rights to judicial protection"
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new and severe challenges for the defence of human rights, affecting especially the most vulnerable groups of people and revealing the profound inequality of the world in which we live.
Latin America is one of the most unequal areas on the planet, and, therefore, the impact of the pandemic has placed human rights severely at risk. For instance, millions of people are left with no daily sustenance to survive or healthcare, and children's access to the right to education now depends exclusively on their internet connection.
Much has happened in 2020, and the novel coronavirus pandemic was the main change that caused a major restructuring of social life. Social and political institutions and, of course, the judicial system were forced to swiftly adjust the ways in which they worked, and the life, health and safety of every person became the main criteria and values that guided them. During that whole period, the court system never halted its activities and continued administering justice at a high level while meeting the requirements of reasonable time of proceedings.