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UN rights expert urges East Timor to reconsider judicial dismissals

Paper Chase - November 26, 2014

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul on Tuesday urged the government of East Timor to reconsider the dismissing of international judges and prosecutors.

Knaul believes that the audit and dismissal of judicial personnel puts the independence of the judiciary within the country in question. Since October the East Timor government has terminated the contracts of international judicial personnel and ordered five judges, two prosecutors and an adviser to leave the country.

Knaul said, "[t]he reduction of the number of international judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals is a legitimate path to follow; however, this should be a process implemented in full conformity with international human rights law and standards, as well as national laws and procedure."

The UN expert believes that the government of East Timor has made progress in building a sound judicial institutions in the past decade but should not disregard the importance of international personnel to strengthen the judiciary.

Gabriela Knaul has previously stated that judicial corruption is a direct threat to the rule of law and human rights because it deprives people without political and financial means of their due process rights.

In a report last month, Knaul advocated "strengthening the judiciary from within," with governments developing anti-corruption bodies to ensure that judges act impartially and are free from political influence.

In 2011 Knaul's report focused on the need for gender equality in criminal justice systems. 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."

Source: http://jurist.org/paperchase/2014/11/un-expert-urges-timor-leste-to-reconsider-judicial-dismissals.php