Justice is not a given

Throughout the world, justice sector institutions continue to violate human rights. We experience and read daily about inefficient, corrupt or politically controlled court systems offering impunity for human rights atrocities committed by law enforcement agencies.

We hear about accused persons tortured in police cells. We hear about men, women and children kept under inhumane conditions without access to adequate food and healthcare, persons denied a proper defence in a criminal case just because they cannot afford a lawyer.

We also hear about national human rights institutions that cannot provide an effective remedy due to lack of independence or shortage of resources and capacity.

At the international level, we continue to experience under-resourced international and regional mechanisms for the protection of human rights as we also see a decline in the support for international criminal justice, with the most prominent example being the future of the international criminal court which is at stake.

There is no lack of international instruments addressing the obligation of justice sector institutions to provide for access to justice and uphold the respect for human rights in exercising their duties.

The challenge today is not standard setting. It is how to give effect to the existing international and regional standards.

In order to do this, we need to strengthen relevant international, regional and national systems, structures and mechanisms to ensure fair efficient, humane and accountable justice delivery.

What we do to address this

Over the last 30 years, we have provided support to strengthening the capacity of justice systems all over the world.

Given the changing environment for human rights in the world today, where human rights are increasingly challenged in many countries, it has become critical for us to continuously re-assess with whom we are working, where we are working and how we are working with the justice sector in order to continue to make a significant contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.

This is an important ongoing process, in which partner countries, partner institutions and methods will be assessed regularly.

Why we do it

Fair, efficient, humane and accountable justice systems that provide access to justice for all and treat persons in conflict with the law, victims, and others in contact with its institutions and mechanisms, with dignity and respect for their fundamental rights and freedoms provides a cornerstone in a society based on human rights and the rule of law.

Rule of law plays an important part in ensuring a just, peaceful and safe democratic society.

Justice systems based on human rights and the rule of law are crucial in order to safeguard that:

societies are inclusive and non-discriminatory

vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrants and victims of trafficking are provided with necessary protection

remedies are available to counter potential effects of economic globalisation, such as infringements in labour rights and environmental hazards

Procedures and practices for fair, efficient, humane and accountable justice significantly determine the equal enjoyment of all human rights.

Photos: Unsplash, Karsten Winegart and Heid Benyounes