Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul - #Maldives
The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers conducted an official visit to the Republic of Maldives at the Government’s invitation from 17 to 24 February 2013. She met with Governmental, legislative and judicial authorities, as well as with lawyers, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. She visited Malé and Addu City.
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur examines the steps taken by the Maldives to ensure the independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers. She analyses the challenges and obstacles that impede justice from being adequately and efficiently administered, and actors of the judicial system from discharging their functions independently, impartially and effectively since the adoption of a democratic Constitution in 2008 and her predecessor’s visit in 2007.
The Special Rapporteur starts her report by placing her visit in the recent political context where tensions with and within the judiciary have led to unrest and negative consequences on the consolidation of democracy. Reference is then made to (a) serious gaps in the legal system; (b) the misinterpretation of the concepts of independence of the judiciary and accountability; (c) the selection and appointment procedures of judges and the lack of transparency and adequacy of the Judicial Service Commission; (d) the lack of protection for judicial actors; (e) the precarious situation of women in the justice system; (f) the effects of impunity for past human rights violations on the justice system; and (g) the concerning lack of public trust in the judicial system.
The Special Rapporteur also examines the budget and conditions of work of the judiciary and prosecutorial services and the serious shortcomings regarding case management and lack of internal regulations and procedures; she further looks at the related issues of delayed proceedings and access to justice. The situation of lawyers is analysed separately. Finally, she addresses the urgent need for quality education and continuing training, in particular in human rights, women’s rights and gender equality, for all judicial actors.