Dr. Shekh Mohammad Altafur Rahman is a human rights lawyer and faculty member of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand. Dr. Rahman spoke about the importance of Access to Justice for Transparency and Accountability in Governance. Dr. Rahman discussed the meaning and components of access to justice that is directly related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #16. He explained that the SDG #16 and the access to justice component have a clear characteristic of overlapping feature, which cannot stand alone as an achievable component. In another words, there is a clear relationship between strong institutions and the notion of judicial system.
The second component is the meaning of access to justice that is not uniformed everywhere and has different kind of connotation for people in different parts of the world. For example, for a person in a hierarchical society, the notion of access to justice is very different than the person who is living in a free society. Similarly, the interpretation of access to justice is also used by dominant political forces in a country that works best in their own benefit, which is impacting the human rights conditions.
The indicator used to assess the access to justice is based on the SDG targets 16.3.1 and 16.3.2. SDG 16.3.1 is about the idea of political crime and crime repartition and the SDG 16.3.2 is about unsentenced detainee. There are minimum 135 indicators regarding the rule of law, however, SDG #16 includes only 2 out of 135 indicators to assess the access to justice in a country. Therefore, there is an enormous gap in reporting criminal prosecution and the detainee without understanding the entire state of access to justice. Read more…
Data collection and analysis of the indicators in access to justice play an important role in understanding and assessing the notion of human rights, rule of law, and strong institutions in a country. Voluntary report or the progress report produced by government are often very much restricted in the nature with narrow interpretation of development and move towards a very inclusive idea of sustainable development. The collection of data and the process of reporting are restricted by governments’ perspectives rather getting a second opinion from other resources including human rights institutes, non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations.
The authority of the state over some other institutions is a huge challenge because the data collection, analysis, and reporting processes would be very much biased depending on the political structure and establishment of the country. It is easy for state authorities to change the set of data available that provide inaccurate information about access to justice in a country. Nowadays, strong governments are emerging in many parts of the world that executive body is trying to control and manipulate the judiciary and legislation bodies, which are supposed to be independent pillars of the state. As a result, there is a rise of human rights violations and erosion of democratic values and the rule of law.
In conclusion, implementing the SDG #16 requires policymakers to reflect on access to justice from multiple dimensions to develop correct policies and practices within a framework that are really functional. We need to adapt, adjust, and correct policies and practices for the protection of human rights and ensuring access to justice.