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Fighting Judicial Corruption


Citizen confidence in the judicial system requires that judges, lawyers, court clerks, and others associated with the judiciary maintain the highest ethical standards. This requires a variety of measures -- from clearly stated rules on the conduct expected through ethics training to procedures for resolving complaints of unethical or improper behavior. This page provides examples of how various developed and developing countries have addressed these issues. It includes codes of conduct for lawyers, judges, and others working in the justice system as well as material on ethics training and arrangements for enforcing ethical norms.

Corruption in Judicial Systems (Transparency International, TI)

The Global Corruption Report 2007, published by Transparency International, looks at how, why and where corruption mars judicial processes, and to reflect on remedies for corruption-tainted systems. This publication focuses on judges and courts but situates them within the broader justice system - police, prosecutors, lawyers and agencies responsible for enforcing judicial decisions. It also looks at the social context of the judiciary and shows how societal expectations, the existence of non-state justice mechanisms and the strength of informal networks that circumvent the justice system, all have a bearing on judicial corruption. The report takes a close look at the two main judicial corruption problems: political interference and petty bribery by court personnel. The 37 country case studies and a series of concrete recommendations for judges, political powers, businesses, lawyers, prosecutors, academics, NGOs and donors are supplemented by 15 empirical studies of corruption in various sectors, including the justice sector.

In addition to the Global Corruption Report, TI has put together an advocacy toolkit to help TI chapters and other civil society groups undertake effective advocacy to combat judicial corruption in their country. It gives examples from Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua, Madagascar, Ghana, and Cambodia.

 Global Corruption Report
 Advocacy Toolkit

The Multilateral Development Banks and Judicial Corruption

This article by Linn Hammergren, published in 2000, reviews programs of multilateral development banks as well as some of other donors in the area of judicial corruption. Despite the absence, then, of specific anti-corruption strategies, the author finds that the donors have recognized the challenge and promote measures to correct it. These include, but are not limited to sponsorship of specialized surveys and public opinion polls, sponsorship of conferences, workshops and publications where judicial corruption figures as a theme, provision of mechanisms to increase the ability of judiciaries to monitor members' behavior, promote new appointment and career systems to decrease vulnerability to corruption, training programs to address themes like judicial ethics, sponsorhip of drafting of ethics codes, and promotion of programs to increase the transparency of judicial actions.

Word Document

Law or Justice: Building Equitable Legal Institutions

This background paper to the World Development Report 2006 on “Equity and Development” highlights the impact of corruption in and capture of the justice system on the society in general and the poor and marginalized in particular.

Guatemala's Ethical Norms for the Judicial Branch

This is an English translation of the code of conduct applicable to all employees of the judicial branch in Guatemala. It was developed by the Magistrate's Institute along with the Association of Judges and Magistrates and civil society organizations and subsequently promulgated by the Guatemalan Supreme Court.

Code of Conduct for American Federal Judges

In the United States, both the individual states and the federal government operate court systems. This code of conduct, consisting of seven canons together with commentary, applies to federal trial and appellate judges as well as to judges sitting on certain specialized courts and individuals appointed to assist judges on certain matters.



 Additional Resources



Integrity - Useful Links

American Judicature Society

Information about the research, programs, and publications of this administration of justice membership organization. The overall focus of the site is on judicial integrity in the US. Includes in-depth issue coverage of judicial independence, ethics, selection, the jury system, court administration, and public understanding of the judicial system.

Anti-Corruption Gateway for Europe and Eurasia

The GATEWAY serves as an easily accessible repository of anti-corruption project documentation, legislation, regional and international agreements, news, survey results, reports, and research. By sharing this information widely, it is hoped that new and productive initiatives will be generated to reduce corruption in these regions.

Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies

National governments, civil society organizations and international donor agencies, created the Anti-Corruption Network to promote knowledge sharing, improved donor coordination, and enhanced collaboration between governments and civil society in combating corruption.


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