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Judicial Accountability and its role in a democracy

May 21st, 2024

by Joshua Kimera

Judicial accountability refers to the idea that judges and judicial systems should be responsible and answerable for their actions and decisions. It is an absolute necessity for the judiciary to remain impartial, transparent and fair.

Uganda recently had a National Court Open day, a first of its kind under the theme ‘A People-Centred Approach to Justice’, urging the public they serve to appreciate and ask questions regarding court processes and access to justice. This went a long way to improve judicial accountability in Uganda.

These ‘open days’ are not a new concept in judicial accountability as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The UK Bar Council has Justice Week; in Australia, organisations such as The Law Society of Western Australia hold the Law Week. These events play a vital role in the promotion of more open, accountable and inclusive legal systems and proceedings.

The judiciary in a democratic society serves as a check on the executive and legislative branches. Judicial accountability ensures that judges are responsible for their actions and decisions, which is critical to upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of an individual, preventing judicial abuse of power and corruption, maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in the judicial system.

Generally, judicial accountability falls under two types: Internal and External Accountability.

Internal accountability exists in the form of disciplinary committees and peer reviews and external accountability in the form of open days, oversight by Parliamentary committees and judicial commissions.

This accountability is better kept in place and improved by the provision of judicial education and programmes for judges to stay updated on legal developments; having disciplinary procedures for misconduct; public access to judicial decisions and projects through the establishment of online platforms and continuous advocacy for judicial transparency.

Through judicial accountability, we can work towards a more accountable, inclusive and transparent judicial system that remains a cornerstone in any democracy.

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About the author

Joshua Kimera

Joshua Kimera is a high school student from Uganda who likes music, cooking, engineering and generally learning the way things work. He likes constructive debate on world issues and social issues like youth participation, gender-based violence and children’s rights. His ambition is to be an engineer to enable him to reform urban planning in Uganda so that slums can be transformed to green areas and sustainable housing.

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by Joshua Kimera

Judicial accountability refers to the idea that judges and judicial systems should be responsible and answerable for their actions and decisions. It is an absolute necessity for the judiciary to remain impartial, transparent and fair.

Uganda recently had a National Court Open day, a first of its kind under the theme ‘A People-Centred Approach to Justice’, urging the public they serve to appreciate and ask questions regarding court processes and access to justice. This went a long way to improve judicial accountability in Uganda.

These ‘open days’ are not a new concept in judicial accountability as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The UK Bar Council has Justice Week; in Australia, organisations such as The Law Society of Western Australia hold the Law Week. These events play a vital role in the promotion of more open, accountable and inclusive legal systems and proceedings.

The judiciary in a democratic society serves as a check on the executive and legislative branches. Judicial accountability ensures that judges are responsible for their actions and decisions, which is critical to upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of an individual, preventing judicial abuse of power and corruption, maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in the judicial system.

Generally, judicial accountability falls under two types: Internal and External Accountability.

Internal accountability exists in the form of disciplinary committees and peer reviews and external accountability in the form of open days, oversight by Parliamentary committees and judicial commissions.

This accountability is better kept in place and improved by the provision of judicial education and programmes for judges to stay updated on legal developments; having disciplinary procedures for misconduct; public access to judicial decisions and projects through the establishment of online platforms and continuous advocacy for judicial transparency.

Through judicial accountability, we can work towards a more accountable, inclusive and transparent judicial system that remains a cornerstone in any democracy.