Corruption in the Judiciary : Balancing Accountability and Judicial Independence
Abstract: A non-corrupt judiciary is a fundamental condition for the endorsement of rule of law and the ability to guarantee basic human rights in society. The judiciary must therefore be an independent and fair body that fights corruption, not the other way around. This essay systematizes different binding and non-binding international, and to some extent regional, norms and standards regarding corruption in the judiciary and judicial independence, and presents potential factors and effects of judicial corruption, through an inventory of documents recognized by organizations such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Further, the essay presents different anti-corruption strategies and the dilemma of implementing such strategies with regard to judicial independence. The advantages and disadvantages of different anti-corruption strategies are reviewed through the study of some successful and unsuccessful examples. There are several definitions of corruption, this essay emanates from the definition of ‘abuse of office for personal or private gain’, a definition that is wide but yet well recognized. The factors of judicial corruption are many and often overlapping, but they vary from state to state and must hence be analyzed individually to find the factual reasons for what generates corruption. The effects are detrimental and break down the very core of rule of law and corrupt judges neglect fundamental principles such as equality, impartiality, propriety and integrity. With regard to the different factors and effects, the norms and standards, and the anti-corruption strategies, a discussion follows about how to rid the judiciary from corruption with preservation of the respect of judicial independence. The discussion also raises the predicament that malpractice of various fundamental principles e.g. judicial independence can occur and further distort unhealthy judiciaries. The main conclusion regarding anti-corruption strategies is that they must be carefully weighed against the principle of independence.
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