Human Rights Council discusses violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the independence of judges and lawyers
Diego Garcia-Sayan, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, noted that his report focused on the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly by judges and prosecutors, both offline and online. In some cases, the interference with the exercise of judges’ and prosecutors’ fundamental freedoms could not be regarded as being necessary in a democratic society to pursue a legitimate aim but had rather been used to punish judges for the opinions expressed or actions taken in the exercise of their profession, sometimes causing a chilling effect on other members of the judiciary or public prosecution. In times of grave democratic crises, judges not only had the right but also the duty to speak up in favour of the restoration of the democratic order.
On the independence of judges and lawyers, some speakers expressed attachment to the separation of powers, saying the specificity of judges and prosecutors’ duties and responsibilities warranted specific restrictions on freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. Some remarked that such restrictions should be established through legislation and be commensurate. Others stressed the need to continuously provide training on ethical principles relating to the fundamental freedom of judges. Maintaining the dignity of their office as well as the independence and impartiality of the judiciary could require that judges and prosecutors take a stand to defend fundamental liberties. The establishment of guidelines on the use of social media was deemed necessary by some to avoid excess on the part of both civil servants and the State.
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (A/HRC/41/48).
Presentation of the Report on Freedom of Expression, Association and Peaceful Assembly
On 24 June 2019, the Human Rights Council in its midday meeting held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.