Reduce and consolidate the number of hearings: Judiciary Integrity Scan Report 2016
Review to what extent the number of necessary hearings could be reduced and consolidate the numerous steps as much as possible into one hearing in order to avoid that court users have to come repeatedly week after week for hearings even in simple cases and review to what extent procedural law should give judges a more active role in procedures, so they can guide parties along the pivotal point of the case, instead of having time wasted with discussion “in all directions”.
These were some of the recommendations made by the judicial integrity scan report launched in the capital last Wednesday at the conference hall of the, Supreme Court. The launch was graced by Chief Justice of Bhutan, Chairperson of the Anti Corruption Commission and Country Director for Swiss Development Commission
The Chief Justice of Bhutan, in his opening remarks stated, “The Scan is certainly not a response or an indication of corruption crisis in the judiciary, but a tool to maintain and improve the integrity safeguards in the judiciary. The Report I am hopeful will help us to identify weak points in court administration and services and prompt policy changes to correct the anomalies and the shortcomings.”
Judiciary Integrity Scan is a tool which aims to improve the legal and institutional framework for judicial integrity based on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, the Measures for the effective implementation of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, and the Implementation Guide and Evaluative Framework for Article 11 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption – UNCAC. The scan was initiated by The Royal Court of Justice in cooperation with the Bhutan National Legal Institute and the AntiCorruption Commission.
The scan complemented the Royal Court of Justice in its mission of “upholding and protecting due process of law, fair trial, rule of law and reviewing system” and ongoing reform initiatives.
Notwithstanding the full compliance with the Bangalore implementation measure, the scan has identified the areas of improvement in the judicial services and accordingly recommended measures in improving it. Implementation of the recommendations from the report has been already initiated. The recent and most concrete being the training on ethics and integrity for 226 bench clerks. Furthermore, the agencies have been implementing other recommendations concerning them as part of their ongoing reforms.
The report will serve as a reference document for the judicial sector in strengthening the integrity reforms in the judiciary. Furthermore such initiative will strengthen the public trust on the important institution such as judiciary.
More so, this Scan report will be deliberated during the 14th Regional Seminar for ADB/ OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific to be held in the country in November this year. The report will be used as basis for policy dialogue on trend, challenges and lessons in enhancing integrity in criminal justice system in the region.
In order to make freedom of information, outreach to media, citizens and state bodies the scan recommends to publish more decisions through different channels through website, case reporters and legal commentaries and to provide a few key words on what a case is about to facilitate research .
Facilitate a series of trainings for journalist on the judicial system and on good practices of judicial reporting, possibly with donor support. Make it good practice of media reports to check the legal accuracy of a draft report with a sufficiently trained professional, the scan further recommends.
Dr. Tilman Hoppe and practicing Judge Hansjorg Edwin Scherer conducted the Scan in the country in 2015.