This is an essay on “Access to Justice” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary examination. Justice is the most fundamental right of any human being. Easy access to justice should be provided to citizens free of cost. So, to understand the Access to Justice in a Democratic Country, here is an essay on the topic of “Access to Justice”.
Essay on “Access to Justice”
Judiciary should take appropriate measures to uphold the rule of law and access to justice, whatever the prevailing political climate, including the humane treatment of all detainees, disregarding evidence obtained through torture and the relevance of applying international human rights law in decision-making. It states that human rights can only be protected through an independent and impartial judiciary free from any form of pressure and supported by an autonomous and well-resourced justice system.
1. Every individual and group should be guaranteed equal access to justice, free from discrimination, regardless of status.
2. A society is respected for its fair treatment of all individuals within its jurisdiction regardless of their opinions, actions, or status. All individuals should be free to enjoy equally their human rights, regardless of race, religion and belief, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or another status.
3. Human rights can only be protected through an independent and impartial judiciary free frO! any form of pressure and supported by an autonomous and well-resourced justice system.
4. All state and non-state institutions and actors are under an obligation to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary and not subject it to threats, intimidation, or any other form of interference or harassment.
5. Whilst it is recognized that all governments are faced with the difficult task of protecting the security of their citizens, this should not be achieved at the expense of human rights and equal access to justice. It is the duty of judges to ensure equality of access.
6. Access to justice requires a full understanding of the language and procedures of the court and it is the duty of all judges to ensure this is. provided.
7. Effective access to justice cannot be achieved without provision to the public of sufficient and reasonably accessible information of their rights under the law.
8. All detainees, whatever their status and the nature of the offenses they have been charged with, should be treated humanely in accordance with international human rights standards, and any evidence obtained directly or indirectly as a result of torture, cruel or inhuman treatment must be disregarded.
9. Emergency powers resulting in derogations from human rights protections should be always limited in time and subject to judicial scrutiny.
10. Recognizing the increasing significance of international human rights law in all jurisdictions, judges should use such law in the interpretation and application of domestic law.
11. Legal education and training should include international and comparative human rights law and its practical application.
Although the judiciary is primarily charged with ensuring the fair and effective administration of justice, it also, in accordance with the doctrine of the separation of powers, provides a safeguard against the abuse of power by the executive, and, in certain circumstances, the legislature. Furthermore, it serves an indispensable role in the protection of fundamental human rights.
In this respect, its precise role will inevitably vary according to the particular legal and constitutional context. However, since the implementation of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants of 1966, and the subsequent proliferation of international human rights legislation, the vast majority of national courts are now required to ensure the protection of basic human rights and civil liberties. Even where states have not signed or ratified human rights treaties, the extensive body of international customary law imposes a range of human rights obligations, including the right to protection against discrimination or prolonged arbitrary detention without trial.
The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.
Lord Donaldson, has said: ‘to maintain the independence of the judiciary is not enough. We must maintain the independence of the entire judicial process.
Indeed, ultimately, it is the judiciary that bears responsibility for the administration of justice and protection of the rule of law: the rights of. everyone to equality before the courts and to a ‘fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
The principle of non-discrimination is fundamental to international human rights law, notably constituting the first and second principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Some positive factors to rationalize the legal system may include:
i) Easy procedures
a) Straightforward documents which require only filling in extra or detailed information should be designed.
b) All procedures should be contained in one office so that litigants do not have to embark on long journeys, which are costly and time-wasting to reach different offices.
c) Assistants to help to fill in the documents and explaining the requirements should be on stand by in local languages.
d) Time limits should accommodate seasons so that litigants are not unduly inconvenience.
ii) Short duration for all litigation
a) Once the case opens, it must be concluded forthwith. Cases must be heard and concluded consecutively. Systems where 3 or 4 cases are run concurrently by one judicial officer lead to delays
for all such cases.
b) Recording systems for all cases must be simultaneous such that final verdicts are recorded as the judgment·is delivered.
iii) Meaningful reward system or punitive system
a) Penalties must have deadlines, when to start ·and when to be completed. A community service penalty system should be encouraged for all convictions in less serious offenses.
b) Monitory or material reward verdicts must include an element of tax and must have a reasonable time frame for total payment or grant.
c) Delays undermine monitory or material value as society moves on with inflation.
(iv) Material rather than monetary only compensation
(a) In communities where buckets of dried beans or maize; or where chickens, ducks, or- goats are valued; such commodities should be ordered rather than money.
(v) Restitution and/or punitive orders to pay back society.
(a) Offenders may be ordered to construct a damn, well, cattle-kraal or bus shelter; plow a field, etc, to make something needed and useful to their communities would serve better than custodial
sentences for convictions involving non-violence crimes. Fines within reason may be used to fund community projects.
All these measures would make the law serve the community.
(vi) Complete implementation of punitive orders or restitution orders.
(a) Whatever verdicts and orders are issued by courts, they must be fully implemented or completed to maintain respect for the Rule of Law. More often than not, parole systems are abused
and people re-offend such that society remains unprotected. Such incidents discourage people from reporting crimes and coming forward as witnesses at trials.
(b) Orders for restitution should be implemented with the involvement of court oﬀicials, they should not
be left to parties ‘to get on with it.
(vii) Process of educating and pacifying people in order to prevent conflict in any form.
(a) be forms School including curriculum the must constitution. include such legislation lesson of must all compulsory subjects within secondary school education.
(b) Alternative dispute resolution systems must also be part of the school curriculum.
(c) Law enforcement agencies such as police services must be well resourced, with adequate training to surveillance programs intended to prevent conflicts or crimes.
Access to justice is as much a question of equality as one of justice. Justice is, in essence, the rights of the weaker and the weak in matters of justice are the poor and underprivileged
who does not enjoy the benefit of the law simply because they do not have access to justice?
Without access to justice, there is no justice.
People who do not know their rights, who cannot obtain the services of a lawyer, who are unaware of whether and how they can have recourse to the law, civil and criminal courts, administrative tribunals, etc. those people have no way to seek and obtain justice.
There are many of those in the world, particularly the poor and the middle class, people without a voice, people whose voice is never or rarely heard but whose needs for justice are as important as are those of the rest of the population. It is simply a matter of equality.
Access to justice means different things to different people. It could simply mean having a physical court building within easy reach; it could mean having affordable legal representation; it could mean easily understood court proceedings, easily understood legal language and procedures or it could mean responsiveness of court personnel. For the disabled and the elderly, it could simply mean having easy access to the court buildings and appropriate seating arrangements.
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