The Supreme Court has decided to establish a ‘judicial academy’ to train judges, judicial sector employees, and lawyers.
A circular issued by the apex court and signed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed yesterday stated that a mechanism for “continuous judicial education” is needed to ensure the right to a fair, impartial, and expeditious trial.
The court also published regulations governing the academy’s operations. The regulations will, however, come into force on December 1.
The academy’s highest authority will be a seven-member advisory council comprised of the chief justice, a Supreme Court justice, the High Court chief judge, the judicial administrator, a trial court judge, a legal scholar from either the national university or Islamic university of Maldives, and the academy’s chancellor.
The chief justice will appoint the chancellor, vice chancellor, and executive secretary for five-year terms. The chancellor must have served as a Supreme Court or High Court judge for five years or have spent five years teaching law.
Last week, the Supreme Court adopted a curriculum to educate Maldivian judges on constitutional law and to develop the judiciary’s professional skills. The ‘Continuous Education Curriculum for the Judiciary’ was developed with the help of experts from the Malaysia-based International Center for Law and Legal Studies, Supreme Court staff, and UNDP Maldives.
The Maldivian judiciary has come under fire for politicisation and lack of academic qualifications among judges. The judicial watchdog in 2010 re-appointed nearly all incumbent judges without a mandatory re-evaluation.
In a damning report released last week, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) observed that the “judiciary suffers from a systemic lack of adequate legal education or training for judges.”
“Prior to the 2008 Constitution, roughly 80 percent of the judiciary possessed no more than a 6-month certification course on sentencing,” the report stated.
“While the new constitution required higher legal educational requirements for judges, the failure of the [Judicial Service Commission] to carry out a proper vetting and re-appointment during the transition period has perpetuated this systemic crisis in capacity. The judiciary continues to lack adequate and consistent educational background or continuing legal training opportunities.”
According to the UNDP, the curriculum for the “continuous education” consists of six courses. Judges will be trained on legal research, case management, court administration and judicial ethics.
Other areas of study include constitutional law, penal law, criminal procedures and civil procedures.