On the 50th session (13 June–8 July 2022) of the Human Rights Council, a resolution (A/HRC/50/L.3) titled “Independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors, and the independence of lawyers: participation of women in the administration of justice” was adopted.
“The Human Rights Council convinced that an independent and impartial judiciary, an independent legal profession, an objective and impartial prosecution able to perform its functions accordingly and the integrity of the judicial system are prerequisites for the protection of human rights and the application of the rule of law and for ensuring fair trials and the administration of justice without any discrimination” is said in the resolution.
Human Rights Council also expressed its concern about situations where the entry into or continued practice within the legal profession is controlled or arbitrarily interfered with by the executive branch, with particular regard to abuse of systems for the licensing of lawyers.
The Human Rights Council called upon all States to guarantee the independence of judges and lawyers and the objectivity and impartiality of prosecutors, and their ability to perform their functions accordingly, including by taking effective legislative, law enforcement and other appropriate measures that will enable them to carry out their professional functions without interference, harassment, threats or intimidation of any kind (§1).
The Resolution stressed that the term of office of judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration, conditions of service, pensions and age of retirement should be adequately secured by law, that the security of tenure of judges is an essential guarantee of the independence of the judiciary and that grounds for their removal must be explicit, with well-defined circumstances provided by law, involving reasons of incapacity or behaviour that renders them unfit to discharge their functions, and that procedures upon which the discipline, suspension or removal of a judge are based should comply with due process (§5).
Independence of lawyers
The Council underscored that that lawyers must not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their function (§8); and emphasized that lawyers should be enabled to discharge their functions freely, independently and without any fear of reprisal (§9); and called upon States to ensure that legal provisions that are to be or have been adopted in relation to counter-terrorism or national security are consistent with the international obligations of the State concerning the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and the right to an effective remedy for violations of human rights and other provisions of international law relevant to the role of judges, prosecutors and lawyers (§19).
Attacks on lawyers
The Council expressed its deep concern at the significant number of attacks against lawyers and instances of arbitrary or unlawful interference with or restrictions to the free practice of their profession, and calls upon States to ensure that any attacks or interference of any sort against lawyers are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are held accountable (§12); reminded States of their duty to uphold the integrity of judges, prosecutors and lawyers and to protect them, and their families and professional associates, against all forms of violence, threat, retaliation, intimidation and harassment, whether from State authorities or non-State actors, resulting from the discharging of their functions, and to condemn such acts and to bring the perpetrators to justice (§11).
Cooperation with the Special Rapporteur
The Council also urged all Governments to cooperate with and to assist the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in the performance of his or her tasks, and calls upon Governments to give serious consideration to responding favourably to the requests of the Special Rapporteur to visit their country, and urges States to enter into a constructive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur with respect to the follow up to and implementation of his or her recommendations to enable him or her to fulfil the mandate even more effectively.
Diversity and equality
The Council also called upon States to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation and representation of all women, as well as equality in access to positions at all levels of the administration of justice, and encourages States to adopt substantive and procedural standards to make progress towards achieving parity and to ensure women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in public decision-making roles in the judicial system, including the judiciary and prosecution services.
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