An independent judiciary is a hallmark of a democratic society, but democracy varies greatly from country to country in the Asia-Pacific region, and the challenges confronting judicial independence in each country are complex and deeply entrenched. From military rule and emergency decrees that invoke national security to eclipse the rule of law to corruption and authoritarian disregard for the separation of powers doctrine, the judiciary is under attack, and in some countries, judges who attempt to enforce the rule of law face serious risks to their personal safety, as well as more subtle, insidious forms of harassment and intimidation. The legal profession has rigorously defended the judiciary in countries such as Hong Kong, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brunei and others, as the responsibility for protecting the institution cannot lie solely with courts and judges, but more needs to be done to protect judicial independence, impartiality, and integrity in the region.
– How can judicial independence, integrity, and impartiality become more deeply rooted in the legal institutions of the Asia-Pacific region?
– How can models for judicial appointments and tenure be reformed to support judicial independence?
– What is the role of a) the legal profession, bar councils and lawyers’ associations, in defending courts and judges, and b) international bodies (such as the International Commission of Jurists or the International Bar Association) in protecting judicial independence in the region?
– How effective are international codes and standards of judicial ethics in safeguarding judicial independence, impartiality and integrity in the region?
This event is the last session in a series of four, jointly hosted by BHRC and ABA ROLI between November 2021 and March 2022. Titled ‘The Edge of the Law: A regional approach to confronting key legal challenges’, the series addresses forced labour, sanctions, data security and digital privacy, and judicial independence through four virtual dialogues with expert speakers.
The initiative aims to address serious human rights concerns in the Asia-Pacific region with a focus on international law and the rule of law, contributing to and building regional consensus, and concluding in a series of actionable steps that participants can import into regional law practice and policy-making.