Courts, Corruption and Judicial Independence
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Original versionin Tina Søreide, Aled Williams: Corruption, Grabbing and Development: Real World Challenges . Cheltenham and Northampton (MA): Edward Elgar Publishing
A well-functioning justice system is crucial to address corruption effectively, which in turn is important for development. But judicial institutions are themselves corruptible. Surveys show that experiences with and perceptions of corruption in the courts are widespread (Afrobarometer, 2010; Latinobarometer, 2010; Eurobarometer, 2011; TI, 2011; GCR, 2012: 303; World Justice Project, 2012). In its 2011 Annual Report, Transparency International (TI) noted that, globally, almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) perceived their judiciary as corrupt. According to the Eurobarometer (2012), around a third of Europeans think corruption is widespread in their judicial services (32 per cent). In Bangladesh, 88 per cent reported having experienced corruption when dealing with the courts (TI, 2012: 23), 85 per cent of Peruvians had little or no confidence in their judiciary (Latinobarometer, 2010), and in countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Peru and Ukraine, the judiciary was seen as the most corrupt of all public institutions (TI, 2012: 19). Corruption and perceptions of corruption in the judiciary not only undermines the courts’ credibility as corruption fighters. More generally, it erodes trust in the courts’ impartiality, harming all the core judicial functions, such as dispute resolution, law enforcement, protection of property rights and contract enforcement. In addition, it harms the broader accountability function that the judiciary is entrusted with in democratic systems – upholding citizens’ rights, securing the integrity of the political rules of the game, and sanctioning representatives of other branches when they act in contravention of the law.