Representatives of judiciaries and judicial training academies from across South and Southeast Asia have agreed to take effective measures to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into their judicial roles and functions. In particular, they have committed to work toward the adoption of Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective.
Thirty-nine judges and representatives of judicial training academies from Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand participated in the Regional Consultation on the Adoption of the Bangkok General Guidance for Judges on Applying a Gender Perspective in South and Southeast Asia (BGG).
Delivering the keynote address, ICJ Secretary General Santiago Canton set the tone for the Dialogue by stressing that “discrimination against women affects everybody without exception. It is a violation that happens every day, every hour, in every country and one of the major challenges we have, to advance the rights of women worldwide, is regarding the implementation of existing international law and standards.”
Chief Judicial Administrator of the Maldivian Judicial Administration Ms. Aishath Rizna stated that “transformational change will take time. However, with the right political will our work on gender equality will only move forward. Our judiciaries need to be sensitized for the needs of all accessing justice and more importantly women, given their many challenges and barriers on this aspect.”
The Indonesian judiciary has formally integrated the BGG into its domestic practice through Supreme Court Regulation No. 3 of 2017. The Maldivian and Nepalese judiciaries also indicated that concrete steps had been taken to formally adopt the BGG since they were updated and contextualized in 2022. While the Maldivian Supreme Court plans to issue the Guidelines as a practice direction to all the courts, the Nepalese Judiciary, having included the BGG in the judiciary’s strategic plan, it is currently working on a manual for the domestic adoption of the Guidance.
Speaking on the significance of the Guidelines, Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla from the Supreme Court of Nepal stated that ‘culture, customary rules, religion and traditional values and practices must not be used to violate the human rights and freedoms of women or otherwise invoked as justification for such violations.’
The remaining six judiciaries presented possible adoption strategies in their own jurisdictions. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in particular, committed to the timely incorporation of the guidelines through formal and informal means.
The Indian Delegation stated that the National Judicial Academy (NJA) through incorporation in its curriculum the Aparna Bhat Judgment, which explicitly refers to the BGG, had proactively facilitated deliberations on gender issues. “In future, the NJA will bring these Guidelines at the forefront of discussions and inspire the 26 State Judicial Academies to do the same so as to make each and every judicial officer gender-sensitive,” they said.
Justice Ayesha Malik from the Supreme Court of Pakistan stated that even though time was not ripe for the formal adoption of the BGG in Pakistan, several steps had been taken to informally bring in the principles of the Guidelines. “Judges who previously referred to CEDAW and other international standards are now making reference to the Bangkok General Guidance in their judgements.”
The Regional consultation also focused on cross-cutting thematic issues in relation to gender discrimination and women’s access to justice in South and Southeast Asia. This included the impact of religion on women’s rights, gender and climate justice, the gender dimensions of transitional justice, online gender-based violence and the protection of women in the context of the use of technology. These discussions with the South and Southeast Asian judges will inform the ICJ’s future work in the area of women’s access to justice in the region.
For further information contact:
Sushmitha Thayanandan, National Legal Advisor for Sri Lanka on email@example.comAdvocacyNewsWeb stories