Attending judges discussed their role in advancing access to justice for persons with disabilities.
On 11 August 2022, the Max Planck Foundation convened an online panel discussion for judges from all levels of the judiciary of the Maldives. Judges were invited to engage with international and domestic experts on the barriers that persons with disabilities face in accessing justice, and the institutional and personal steps that judges may take to minimise these barriers.
The event began with an expert panel discussion. The panel consisted of three experts: Coomara Pyaneandee, former Vice-Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Wilson Macharia, Consultant to the International Commission of Jurists on the access to justice for persons with disabilities and Hussain Rameez, Head of Legal Affairs at the Maldives Association of Persons with Disabilities. These experts outlined the international and Maldivian legal frameworks establishing the protection of persons with disabilities, identified challenges to the full implementation of these frameworks and suggested practical steps that judges might take to advance access to justice for persons with disabilities. Such steps included the roll-out of sensitisation training, issuing guidelines for justice sector actors, and ensuring accessibility of court proceedings and buildings.
Following the expert discussion, attending judges were invited to pose questions and comments to the panellists. This led to a fruitful conversation about, for instance, the way that judges might balance the need to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities with fair trial rights of other litigants, how resource constraints might be overcome in providing reasonable and procedural accommodations, and the importance of collaboration between justice sector actors, government agencies and civil society to advance the rights of persons with disabilities.
This panel discussion is the third in a series of discussions about the role of judges in advancing access to justice for vulnerable groups. This panel series is part of the Foundation’s ‘Stabilising the Rule of Law by Supporting the Reform Agenda of the Republic of Maldives’ project.