The ICJ has published global guidance on the use of videoconferencing in judicial proceedings, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The briefing note supplements more general guidance on the Courts and COVID-19 issued in May 2020.
The guidance recognizes the challenges faced by judiciaries in balancing the right to health of judges and others involved in court proceedings, with the fundamental role of the judiciary in securing access to justice, legal protection of human rights, and the rule of law.
It sets out a series of recommendations based on an analysis of relevant provisions of treaties and other international instruments, as well as international and regional jurisprudence.
While encouraging judiciaries and other authorities to seek to ensure availability of videoconferencing capabilities for litigants who voluntarily choose to use it, as well as in certain other circumstances, the guidance also highlights limits on the non-consensual imposition of videoconferencing on certain kinds of hearings, particularly criminal trials and judicial review of deprivation of liberty.
Among the topics covered are the following:
– ensuring public access to proceedings conducted by videoconference;
– the scope for videoconferencing in criminal proceedings, and the particular issues with its use in criminal trials;
– serious concerns with non-consensual imposition of videoconferencing for the judicial review of deprivation of liberty;
– essential considerations for ensuring the right to a lawyer in any use of videoconferencing.
Matt Pollard, Director of the ICJ Centre for the Independence of Judges & Lawyers, e: matt.pollard(a)icj.org
The guidance is part of a wider body of ongoing work by the ICJ on human rights, the rule of law, and COVID-19. Other publications can be found here.
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