The Foundation delivered the second “Training of Trainers” for Judges of the Maldives in Malé

Between 18-20 November 2023, Judges from various tiers of the justice system attended the second “Training of Trainers” on “Applying a Human Rights-Based Approach to Judicial Decision-Making”.

The Training was organised by the Max Planck Foundation with the support of the Department of Judicial Administration and the Judicial Academy. It was attended by three Justices from the Supreme Court and the High Court, and five Judges from the Drug, Civil, Family, Criminal and Magistrate Courts.

The Training was launched with opening remarks from the Foundation’s Research Fellows, reiterating the overarching objective of cascading this training to the Magistrate Courts through three roll-out workshops in 2024.

The first day commenced with a session on the fairness and publicity of a trial before an independent and impartial court pursuant to the Maldives’ international and domestic legal obligations. The second session focused on the minimum guarantees of a fair trial under international human rights law and the role of judges in ensuring their observance. Both sessions delved into the scope and application of the rights by analysing the jurisprudence of the UN Treaty Bodies and international and domestic courts. The third session focused on the principle of the best interests of the child, with practical examples of its application and the role of judges in exercising their subjective discretion when interpreting it. The thematic sessions were followed by presentations from the participating Judges.

The second day reconvened with a focus on the vulnerability of children as enunciated in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The next two sessions pertained to applying a human rights-based approach to cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and analysed the scope of protection against domestic violence under international human rights law and drew on international human rights law and comparative jurisprudence to recommend approaches, procedures and practices to make courts gender-sensitive and survivor-centric, particularly when adjudicating GBV cases. The thematic sessions were followed by five presentations from the participating Judges. The presentations on GBV highlighted the forms and manifestations of GBV in the Maldives, the trajectory of an average GBV case in the country, and the positive practices concerning the criminalisation of domestic violence from five jurisdictions.

The third day saw a session on the human rights considerations for judges while issuing sentences in criminal cases. The remainder of the day had a very practical focus. The participating Judges were asked to choose from three case studies proposed to them. As a result, two panels were formed: one for a case pertaining to the use of social media by judges, and another for a case concerning domestic violence. The two panels analysed the facts of the case, applied the relevant laws, and presented their reasoning in the larger plenum.

The Training concluded with a tentative outline for the roll-out workshops in 2024. The Chief Judicial Administrator Aishath Rizna gave closing remarks and emphasised the importance of human rights consideration in judicial decision-making.

This “Training of Trainers” is the second and last in the series. In 2024, the trained Judges will deliver the training on applying a human rights-based approach to select Magistrate Courts in the Maldives.

The Training was part of the Foundation’s project in the Maldives titled ‘At the Crossroad Between Progressive Reforms and Democratic Backsliding: Supporting the Stabilisation of the Maldives‘, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.