As the world body of lawyers under the aegis of the International Bar Association(IBA) ended its conference in Vienna, Austria, the body has resolved to fight in the judiciary all over the world. IBA President, David Rivkin said this the session on judicial corruption at the just concluded conference.
According to him, corruption in the judiciary is a global problem. “While manifestations of corruption seem to be most common in developing countries, judicial corruption remains a global problem. Research by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) suggests that causes of judicial corruption include low remuneration and far-reaching discretionary powers, twinned with weak monitoring of how those powers are executed. The research also found that a lack of comprehensive and regularly updated computer systems is one of the main causes of such crimes”.
Revkin said that corruption is often viewed as the biggest obstacle standing in the way of peace, stability and human rights and can be detrimental to an individual or organisation’s reputation and credibility. When corruption has spread so far as to infect even the judicial system, then its fundamental role to be fair to all is compromised. Any judge that take bribe or uses his influence to favour a party in case before him cannot be called impartial or independent.
He said: “The problem is worsened when the manipulation comes from a higher power, such as the government. This creates an environment which fosters further corruption.Objectivity and neutrality, the two most central principles to the rule of law itself, no longer exist and fundamental human rights are, by definition, violated”.
Revkin said that IBA has a particular responsibility to combat judicial corruption because the can be effective in ways that others cannot. “It has done a lot over the years in the wider fight, but we have not focused on the government side before, and that’s especially important. With 55,000 individual members and 195 bar associations and law societies around the world, the IBA has a unique grasp on the global legal community,” he said.
In February, IBA launched the Judicial Integrity Initiative as one of the key priorities of Rivkin’s two-year tenure. It has been working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Basel Institute of Governance and various other anti corruption committees. In London and Singapore, the IBA organised a series of high-level discussions with prosecutors, civil society organisations, leading lawyers and business executives.
Rivkin praised countries that are taking action in the fight against judicial corruption. “Several Ghanaian judges at both high and lower court level, are being investigated over allegations of corruption; China’s Central Politics and Law Committee is set to relaunch a programme to recruit judges from the top ranks of lawyers and academics to improve its judicial system, which has been criticized in the past; and the National Judicial Council (NJC) of Nigeria has taken severe actions in recent years against those found guilty on the bench,” he concluded.