Language Switcher

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, A/HRC/4/25, 18 January 2007


B. Standards and practices relevant to the rule of law, the smooth functioning of the judicial system and the right to a fair trial

21. There are many complex complaints about unequal access to justice. This problem particularly affects the most vulnerable groups (such as children and persons with mental illnesses), those who are discriminated against or persecuted (for example, on grounds of their sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, or religious convictions or practices) and members of some social groups (for example, human rights defenders, environmentalists and campaigners seeking to protect natural resources). These same groups often lose out from a failure to enforce court decisions, particularly where economic, social and cultural rights are at issue. Both the lack of access to justice and the failure to enforce court decisions relating to economic, social and cultural rights are symptomatic of the relationship between key economic and social factors and the administration of justice.

23. As regards judges, it is often the case that aspects of the statutes governing the judiciary or legal safeguards on conditions of practice in fact impair judicial independence, one example being when judicial appointments are non-permanent and are within the direct gift of the head of State. Short of this extreme, practices involving discrimination on grounds such as political allegiance, religion, beliefs about human rights, sex, sexual orientation, physical disability or ethnic origin can leave judges in a precarious position, affecting their employment and promotion prospects.

Link to full text of the report: Report-SR Independence of Judiciary-2007-eng