Manila (Philippines/Virtual), 22 December 2022 - The United Nations has adopted a series of resolutions, decisions, and instruments underlining the importance of establishing and strengthening effective, independent, and objective judicial systems. Foremost among these is Article 11 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which requires States to take measures to strengthen integrity and to prevent opportunities for corruption among members of the independent judiciary.
With this in mind, on 14 October 2022, The Supreme Court of the Philippines launched the Judiciary’s long-term reform program: The Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI). The SPJI is the High Court’s plan of action to address institutional challenges using four guiding principles: Timely and fair delivery of justice, transparency and accountability, equality and inclusivity, and technologically adaptive. Steered by these guiding principles, the Court targets three major outcomes: Efficiency, Innovation, and Access in its service delivery.
On 13 December 2022, UNODC and The Supreme Court conducted a hybrid meeting to explore how UNODC’s Anti-Corruption Programme can best support the following activities under the SPJI: Pursue a campaign for ethical responsibility, strengthen the Judicial Integrity Board, and enhance public access to information and legal services. Attendees of the meeting included: Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh, and various high-level attorneys.
During the meeting, The Chief Justice highlighted his vision of modernizing court processes and operations, strengthening information and communication technology governance, management and operations, effective use of data in policy and decision-making and upgrading information sharing in the justice system. In providing accessible justice for all, The Supreme Court vowed to enhance its public access to information and legal services, improve legal aid initiatives, strengthen the foundations of Shariah justice, and promote gender fairness and inclusivity.
In addition, the Supreme Court will promulgate new rules of court procedures, pursue a campaign for ethical responsibility, create a Committee for the Revision of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR), and hold a National Summit on Ethical Responsibility for Internal and External Stakeholders.
The Supreme Court also expressed its desire to strengthen the Judicial Integrity Board by enhancing its capacity to assess anonymous complaints by implementing a whistleblower protection policy. To further enhance judicial ethics and integrity, The Supreme Court aims to provide counselling to judges on ethical issues and establish a Judiciary Marshall Office as an informal complaints redress mechanism.
UNODC expressed its commitment to supporting The Supreme Court in the above-mentioned activities and confirmed that it has the materials and resources to do so. UNODC will also support the National Summit on Ethical Responsibility to be held on 1-2 March 2022.
This initiative was part of activities funded by the Ministry of Justice of the Government of the Republic of Korea and was part of ongoing activities conducted by UNODC in the fight against fraud and corruption across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Footage (where available) and written summaries of UNODC events are publicly available via our website.
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