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Cover: Judicial Training in ASEAN

Judicial Training in ASEAN

A Comparative Overview of Systems and Programs

May 1, 2014


provided by: Rule of Law Programme Asia
Ed.: Human Rights Resource Centre (HRRC)in collaboration with the Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI); and WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice (Handa Center)


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As ASEAN moves forward to become a more integrated community by 2015,strengthening the capacities of ASEAN judiciaries, will be a requirement for stable and rules-based transitions throughout the region. This study, provides an overview of judicial training in the ten ASEAN member states and builds on the initial findings of the 2011 'Rule of Law for Human Rights in the ASEAN Region: A Baseline Study'. It aims to assist ASEAN judicial training institutions and other interested stakeholders in promoting cross-border collaboration on judicial training across ASEAN.

Background and Objective:

As ASEAN moves forward to become a community integrated in the economic, political-security, and socio-cultural spheres by 2015, strengthening the capacities of ASEAN judiciaries, including through cross-border collaboration, will be a requirement for stable and rules-based transitions throughout the region.

The ASEAN Charter, which entered into force on 15 December 2008, provides the legal and institutional framework for ASEAN to be a more rules-based, effective and people-oriented organisation. Following the entry into force of the Charter, the ASEAN leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am, Thailand, signed the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015). The Roadmap is comprised of the Blueprints for the ASEAN Political-Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan 2. Inter-connected, these documents are meant to instruct and guide ASEAN in moving towards an ASEAN Community by 2015.

In order to build “A Rules-based Community of Shared Values and Norms,” the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Blueprint states that it is necessary to “Establish programmes for mutual support and assistance among ASEAN Member States in the development of strategies for strengthening the rule of law and judiciary systems and legal infrastructure.”

This study, which provides an overview of judicial training in the ten ASEAN member states, is inspired by the above aims of the ASEAN Charter and the APSC Blueprint. It builds on the initial findings of the 2011 Rule of Law for Human Rights in the ASEAN Region: A Baseline Study. For ASEAN governments to fully implement their obligations under the ASEAN Charter to the rule of law and good governance, the 2011 baseline study recommended that Member States “develop and implement judicial training programs for judges from across the region so as to strengthen judiciary systems.”

By providing a synopsis of the different structures and programmes in the region and, in the process, highlighting good practices, Judicial Training in ASEAN: A Comparative Overview of Systems and Programs aims to assist ASEAN judicial training institutions and other interested stakeholders in promoting cross-border collaboration on judicial training across ASEAN.

B. Rationale for the Study

The 2011 baseline study of the HRRC is the first ASEAN-wide study to look at the rule of law landscape in all of the 10 member states. In assessing the state of rule of law, the study looked at, among others factors, whether or not “justice is administered by competent, impartial and independent judiciary and justice institutions.” The study, however, did not attempt to examine how judicial officers are trained in ASEAN – an important component to consider when endeavouring to standardise certain norms for the judiciary across the region.

Other organizations, such as the ASEAN Law Association (ALA), have aimed to compile information on the legal systems of the member nations of the ALA. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in Constitutionalism in Southeast Asia, has also published the constitutional documents of all Southeast Asian countries as well as a collection of papers on crosscutting issues in the different constitutional systems. The available publications provide analyses of the various justice systems, including their legal procedures, sources of law, and practices relevant to the legal profession and education. While existing literature are instrumental in understanding the context within which judicial training institutions developed and currently function in the region, none appear devoted to studying the structures and curricula of judicial training institutions from a regional perspective.

C. Methodology and Analytical Framework

This research consists of a comparative desk study (the Study). The Study is therefore limited in scope and cannot provide a full assessment of judicial training across ASEAN. It is primarily based upon the country-specific findings of our team of expert researchers and country-based research consultants. In doing so, we rely on reviewing existing primary and secondary sources.

The researchers predominantly consulted the Constitution, laws and/or regulations that mandated institutions to provide training for judicial officers, as well as the publications and curricula produced by such mandated institutions. The team of researchers also considered government and third-party reports assessing the state of judicial training in the country. These sources were complemented, where needed, by a limited number of non-structured interviews in the respective countries, particularly in countries where such information were not readily available.

The Study comprises two parts. Part One comprises a synthesis report (the Synthesis Report), including annexes. The Synthesis Report first focuses on the institutionalization and structure of judicial training in each of the 10 ASEAN member states. For ease of reference, we refer to these institutions as judicial training mechanisms, (or JTMs). It looks at how the institutions are overseen and how they select participants, as well as how they organize their programmes and curricula.

It then focuses on how ASEAN integration is considered among the national-level JTMs. Examples of how JTMs have included issues specific to ASEAN and regional integration in their curricula are highlighted. This section also considers how ASEAN JTMs take advantage of the wealth of expertise in the region through collaboration and exchange of information. Part One is structured as follows:

I. Introduction A. Background and Objective B. Rationale for the Study C. Methodology and Analytical Framework

II. The Structure and Institution of Judicial Training across ASEAN A. Institutional Set Up B. Participants in Judicial Training Institutions C. Training Organization and Curriculum

III. Consideration of ASEAN Integration in National-Level Judicial Training A. Institutional Consideration of ASEAN Integration B. Consideration of ASEAN Integration, ASEAN Legal Instruments, and International Law in the Curriculum C. Collaboration between Judicial Training Institutions

IV. Conclusion

Part Two then comprises ten country factsheets, one for each ASEAN country, providing both a detailed overview of each country’s judicial training programs and the requirements necessary for entering the judicial professions. The factsheets are structured as follows:

A. Training Organization and Institutionalisation 1. Relevant Recent Legal and Judicial Reforms 2. Institutions Responsible for Judicial Training 3. Participants of Judicial Training 4. Necessity of Undergoing Pre-Judicature Training

B. Structure and Content of Training Programme for Judges 1. Structure of Training Curriculum 2. Content of Training Curriculum: Selected Specific Topics a.) Judicial Ethics b.) Human Rights and/or Fair Trial Rights c.) ASEAN Instruments d.) International/Comparative Law and Conflict of Laws 3. Continuing Judicial Education

As ASEAN moves towards becoming an integrated community, judges and judicial officers will continue to play an increasingly important role in interpreting the legal instruments that frame and shape that community. This Study seeks to show how judicial training is structured and institutionalized, as well as JTMs’ commitment to the norms embedded in the ASEAN Charter, in order to contribute positively to the understanding of that role.


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