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Judicial Independence and Human Rights Protection Around the World

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 85 Issue: 4 Dated: January-February 2002 Pages: 194-200
Linda Camp Keith
Date Published
7 pages
This article discusses the essential role of the judiciary in guaranteeing human rights protection throughout the world.
The United Nations continues to be instrumental in creating standards for countries seeking to establish a constitutionally protected, independent judiciary. This article looks at two questions: what progress has been made from 1976-1996 towards adopting international standards when adopting a constitution, and the impact of constitutional provisions regarding human rights protection. In order to ensure human rights for all persons, many legal scholars, human rights advocates, political scientists, and academicians, to name a few, insist on having an independent judiciary free of outside forces and/or interference from the legislative and executive branches. As more emerging democracies and newly independent countries write constitutions, citizens are given hope for future human rights protection. Yet, research needs to be conducted to see if there is a correlation between having protocols in place and the nations' human rights behavior. The researcher decided on seven ordinal measures of judicial independence. They were guaranteed terms of office, finality of decisions, exclusive authority, ban against military of exceptional courts, fiscal autonomy, separation of powers, and enumerated qualifications. Seven graphs are provided--one for each measure. Adding a clause that allows the courts to have exclusive authority was the largest improvement noted. The impact of human rights behavior was also positive as a formal guarantee of judges' tenure in office shields her or him from corrupt leaders and/or overzealous legislatures. Future research could shed some light on economic and political conditions that might hinder or help constitutional provisions succeed. Another area of research suggested is what happens to the judiciary during states of emergency or during times of domestic and/or international crisis?