ASIA: Victims and Litigants Suffer in Absence of Independent Judiciary and Legal Profession

An Oral Statement to the 50th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)

Mr. President

The Special Rapporteur’s report has substantively covered the aspects regarding the protection of the lawyers against undue interference and independent exercise of the legal profession.

Echoing the Special Rapporteur the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) reiterates that many States in Asia are disempowering the Judiciary for enjoying authoritarian powers. The notion of separation of power is neither promoted nor respected in most of the countries. Judiciary suffers systematic setbacks as the Executive Branch of the State: i) controls the recruitment of judicial officers on political loyalty; ii) abandons the merit and principle based process in promoting and placements; iii) allocates extremely inadequate resources. The justice system entirely survives at the mercy of the political and bureaucratic elites. In the given context, the Judges regularly fail to abide by the judicial code of conducts causing damaging impacts on the institution’s integrity and public trusts.

In the emergence of growing authoritarianism, the legal profession is degenerating in the region. The ruling elites and intelligence agencies interfere into the process of professional legal representation of the Bar Associations to prevent the system of checks and balances. Lawyers face arbitrary detention, physical assaults and torture, abductions, extrajudicial killings, and intimidations by the State sponsored agents and hate campaign by in formal and informal media in most cases. Regulatory bodies fail to uphold professional accountability due to political and ideological biasness.

In Bangladesh, for instance, the Government’s existing policy of using enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution as tools to silence the dissidents and political opponents go unchallenged, as the most prominent lawyers do not dare to represent the victims. Pursuing justice becomes a life-threatening risky exercise.

The ALRC wants to know whether the Special Rapporteur will initiate any action-oriented and time-bound programmes for facilitating the improvements of those systemic flaws.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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