Fundamental Rights Workshop with the Maldivian Judiciary concluded successfully

Over 50 Judges participated in the virtual event

The workshop entitled “Fundamental Rights and Judicial Conduct in Theory and Practice” was held between 27 September and 1 October. It was organised in partnership with the Department of Judicial Administration, the Judicial Academy and the Max Planck Foundation.

56 Judges participated, including judges from the Civil Court, Criminal Court, Family Court, Juvenile Court, Drug Court and Magistrate’s Court. The entire event was hosted on the Foundation’s LEARN platform. Aishath Rizna, the Chief Judicial Administrator; Dr Shahuneeza Naseer, Director of the Department of Judicial Administration; and Ahmed Ali, Director General of the Judicial Academy, participated in the opening session.

One agenda topic related to the relationship between international law and the protection of fundamental rights. It discussed the foundations of international law, human rights and fundamental rights, as well as the limitation of fundamental rights. Judges were presented with substantive content as well as exercises to practically apply such knowledge. As part of this topic, Foundation Research Fellows convened a podcast with the participation of Dr Kamal Hossain, a prominent human rights lawyer, and politician in Bangladesh, and Justice (Dr) Bertus de Villiers, a Judge at the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia and scholar of constitutional and administrative law. This discussion was robust and gave a great insight into the limitation of fundamental rights, including the use of comparative international jurisprudence as an interpretative aid.

The topic of judicial conduct covered standards of proper judicial conduct contained in human rights law and judicial ethical codes of conduct, exploring both the domestic and international ethical standards applicable to judges. Recognising that many issues surrounding judicial conduct and ethics are extremely practical, this topic included exercises for judges to reflect on judicial conduct and also to apply ethical standards to real-life scenarios they may encounter in their judicial duties. The module also included a podcast recorded with Justice Aisha Shujune Muhammad, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Maldives as well as a member of the Judicial Service Commission of Maldives (JSC), which outlined the role of the JSC, discussed the standards of conduct contained in the Code of Conduct for Judges in the Maldives and presented the process of investigations into alleged violations of ethical standards by judges. This was an interesting discussion and provided participants with a great perspective on domestic mechanisms that deal with violations of required standards for judicial conduct.

The workshop was brought to a close with a live webinar on the topic of judicial resilience, which included the participation Justice de Villiers who first discussed challenges to judicial independence and impartiality, drawing from his own experience. Judges were then divided into breakout rooms to discuss challenges to independence that they faced in their judicial duties and within the Maldivian context. This resulted in a robust and interesting discussion about unique challenges faced by Maldivian judges. Justice de Villiers then shared his thoughts on how judges could respond to some of these challenges and thereby, increase judicial resilience. The webinar concluded with closing remarks from the Chief Judicial Administrator, Aishath Rizna, and Johannes Krusemark-Camin, one of the Managing Directors from the Max Planck Foundation. The workshop formed part of the German Federal Foreign Office funded project, “Strengthening the Rule of Law in the Maldives”.