Courts, corruption and judical independence
PluriCourts coordinator Siri Gloppen published a chapter in the book Corruption, grabbing and development : real world challenges edited by Tina Søreide and David Aled Williams (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014, pp. 68-79). Read the full chapter here.
The perception of corruption is widespread in many countries across the world. While there is broad consensus that corruption in the court system is destructive and should be addressed, there are particular challenges involved in fighting judicial corruption. Anti-corruption efforts may jeopardize the independence of the judiciary and thus undermine judges’ ability to fulfill their accountability functions. In fact, limiting judicial independence may be the real motive behind such measures. So while we should care about corruption in the court system, we should also keep in mind that corruption charges and measures against judicial corruption may serve as a way to rein in bothersome judges.
The first section of this chapter explores different facets of corruption in the judicial sector and how this undermines real and perceived independence of the judiciary and threatens the very core of the judicial function, where trust plays a crucial role. The second section discusses governments’ use of corruption charges and investigations as tools that now and then are misused in political power games. The third section presents common approaches to address corruption problems in the judicial sector and examines how they balance the need for increased accountability with respect for judicial independence.