A UN legal expert said Wednesday that governments around the world need to do more to combat judicial corruption [press release]. Presenting her annual report [materials] to the UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul [official profile] said that judicial corruption is a direct threat to the rule of law [UN News Centre report] and human rights because it deprives people without political and financial means of their due process rights. In her report, Knaul suggested a policy of "strengthening the judiciary from within" in which governments develop anti-corruption bodies to ensure that judges act impartially and are free from political influence:
Combating corruption within the judicial system is important in order to strengthen judicial credibility and independence. Thus, the establishment of internal and external mechanisms of accountability for judges, prosecutors and the court staff is imperative. Any such mechanisms should be developed with the full participation and consent of the actors concerned.Knaul also called on the international community to assist nations in cracking down on corruption and strengthening the rule of law.
Last year Knaul's report focused on the need for gender equality in criminal justice systems [JURIST report]. Knaul said that "[g]iven the historical and pervasive discrimination against women throughout the world, we have to look at how women are represented and treated in the criminal justice system." Knaul stressed the necessity of integrating gender perspective into judicial procedures to allow women's perspectives to challenge the "traditional notions of judging and judicial authority." The report included a number of recommendations to states on how to improve gender equality in their criminal justice systems, including identifying judicial regions most affected by gender-based discrimination, encouraging women to apply for high level criminal justice positions, and providing training geared on gender equality and women's rights.