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November 17, 09

NEWS / UN rights chief urges South Asian judges to facilitate access to justice for all

17 November 2009 – The United Nations human rights chief has called on judges across South Asia to ensure that everyone has access to justice, as part of efforts to combat the scourges of inequality and discrimination.
While inequality and discrimination remain an enormous challenge across the world, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay singled out what she described as “the burden of multiple discrimination” that affects women, the poor, caste groups and indigenous peoples, among many others.

“This web of inequality and discrimination produces swathes of social exclusion and disadvantage in our societies,” she said in a video message to the opening on Monday of a meeting of regional judges and experts from the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) and the UN Human Rights Council.

The two-day event, hosted by the Maldives, looks at the interpretation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination by courts in the region and the role of judges in ensuring access to justice for all.

“The judiciary can and must play a critical role in fighting the scourges of inequality and discrimination,” Ms. Pillay stressed, noting in particular that they can do this by facilitating access to justice.

“Regardless of the substance of a complaint, some individuals’ claims will never be heard because of barriers to justice that discriminate against them,” she said. “This is an area in which judges may have even more power to counter discrimination and exclusion.”

She added that OHCHR hoped to strengthen its cooperation with judiciaries in South Asia and support them through the dissemination of good practices and comparative jurisprudence, and to facilitate the sharing of experience and insights among peers.




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