Qatar participated in an expert workshop on the role of judicial immunities in securing judicial integrity organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), held in the UN's headquarters in Vienna.
The Qatari delegation is led by HE the Chairman of the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) and President of the Court of Cassation Dr Hassan Lahdan Saqr al-Mohannadi.
The workshop, held on the proposal of Qatar, is discussing several important issues and themes related to judicial integrity, including explicit guarantees by the state towards its independent judiciary with no political pressure from the executive and legislative.
Besides, it is discussing procedures for the evaluation and appointment of judges and their assistants under the principles of judicial immunity.
The two-day workshop will also discuss the guarantees provided to judges that protect their functions, time frame, material gains, retirement age and time to remain in office, in addition to finding guidelines to provide the best conditions for the career path management of judges to ensure the fairness of promotion and accounting procedures at the same time.
The workshop, which brings together judges, academic experts and directors of the departments of planning, quality and judicial control through the representation of five continents of the world, discusses the importance of finding a balance between the professional and administrative responsibilities of judges and the salaries and allowances they receive, in addition to the need for a suitable supportive working environment.
Dr al-Mohannadi said judicial immunity affects the tendency of judges' sensitive work towards any negative effects that may be exercised by them in particular or on the subject that seek to influence the integrity of the judge's decision and against the common denominator that brings together all the judges of the world, related to the pursuit of completed justice.
He said interpretations may differ here and there on the subject of judicial immunity, among those who see it as an obstacle that secludes judges from professional and legal accountability examining performance, transparency, and professional quality.
On the other hand, others see the immunity as a tool to protect the nature of the profession and those in charge of it from the authority of any other authority whose orientations may differ with the course of justice.
He explained the scope of the jurisdiction of the judicial immunity of the judicial profession.
He also reviewed the professional immunities especially diplomatic immunity, organised by the 1961 Vienna Convention on the Regulation of Diplomatic Relations, which is based on the principle of facilitating the performance of the profession from the interference and the obstruction of a third party, to ensure the freedom to perform the diplomatic profession according to its nature and requirements.
Also, he reviewed the second type of professional immunity related to parliamentary immunity, which guarantees the work of a member of the Legislative Council (Parliament) to carry out all parliamentary work in a way that ensures that no direction or opinion is imposed on him from another party.
Dr al-Mohannadi added that all this shows that the system of international immunities in force today is based on the principle of the nature of the profession, therefore, the Supreme Judicial Council initiative was founded to create a practical and universal reference approach that regulates judicial immunity with a global perspective.
He said that immunity (judicial and other) does not mean that law and order shall not be applied on the person who is granted immunity, but that the law applies on him like others, and it is intended that the law and its enforcement procedures shall be applied to the person enjoying judicial immunity in a manner that ensures the integrity of the intention and procedure.
Dr al-Mohannadi is excellency added that some scholars argue that judicial immunity means that no authority should interfere with the judiciary, that is, immunity of the judiciary as an institution and not for judges in person, this concept is incomplete according to the specialised institutional because it addresses half of the equation and leaves the judges in front of the hypothesis of other parties to go against their honest professional performance.
He concluded by saying that the procedures for the prosecution of judges who violate the profession and the prevailing laws should be in a special course that takes into account the specificity of the profession and the need to preserve its good image in the public opinion without granting the judge an exceptional immunity from the punishment he deserved according to a conclusion reached by investigation and fair trials based exclusively on law.
The first day of the workshop witnessed the holding of the first two sessions on the importance of the role of judicial immunities and their relationship to the protection of the independence of the judiciary, during which the expert at the UNODC, Jeremy Cooper reviewed in detail the causes and importance of the role of judicial immunities in maintaining the independence of the judiciary, and its relevance to the work of the Global Judicial Integrity Network.
The opening session of the workshop started with a welcoming speech delivered by UNODC's Division of Treaty Affairs Director John Brandolino, in which he stressed the importance of the themes and topics discussed during the two-day workshop sessions, and expressed his hope that it will lead to tangible results that enhance judicial integrity around the world, stressing his appreciation of the Qatari initiative to call for this meeting and the well-selected subjects to be discussed in the different sessions.